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The Book of Longings: A Novel (Hardcover)

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Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2020 by O, the Oprah Magazine, Good Morning America/ABC-TV, Good Housekeeping, and Marie Claire

An extraordinary story set in the first century about a woman who finds her voice and her destiny, from the celebrated number one New York Times bestselling author of The Secret Life of Bees and The Invention of Wings


In her mesmerizing fourth work of fiction, Sue Monk Kidd takes an audacious approach to history and brings her acclaimed narrative gifts to imagine the story of a young woman named Ana. Raised in a wealthy family with ties to the ruler of Galilee, she is rebellious and ambitious, with a brilliant mind and a daring spirit. She engages in furtive scholarly pursuits and writes narratives about neglected and silenced women. Ana is expected to marry an older widower, a prospect that horrifies her. An encounter with eighteen-year-old Jesus changes everything.

Their marriage evolves with love and conflict, humor and pathos in Nazareth, where Ana makes a home with Jesus, his brothers, and their mother, Mary. Ana's pent-up longings intensify amid the turbulent resistance to Rome's occupation of Israel, partially led by her brother, Judas. She is sustained by her fearless aunt Yaltha, who harbors a compelling secret. When Ana commits a brazen act that puts her in peril, she flees to Alexandria, where startling revelations and greater dangers unfold, and she finds refuge in unexpected surroundings. Ana determines her fate during a stunning convergence of events considered among the most impactful in human history.

Grounded in meticulous research and written with a reverential approach to Jesus's life that focuses on his humanity, The Book of Longings is an inspiring, unforgettable account of one woman's bold struggle to realize the passion and potential inside her, while living in a time, place and culture devised to silence her. It is a triumph of storytelling both timely and timeless, from a masterful writer at the height of her powers.

About the Author


Sue Monk Kidd's debut, The Secret Life of Bees, spent more than 100 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, has sold more than 6 million copies in the U.S., was turned into an award-winning major motion picture and a musical, and has been translated into 36 languages. Her second novel, The Mermaid Chair, was a #1 New York Times bestseller and was adapted into a television movie. Her third novel, The Invention of Wings, an Oprah's Book Club 2.0 pick, was also a #1 New York Times bestseller. She is the author of the acclaimed memoirs The Dance of the Dissident Daughter, a groundbreaking work on religion and feminism, and the New York Times bestseller Traveling with Pomegranates, written with her daughter, Ann Kidd Taylor.

Praise For…


Advance praise for The Book of Longings:

“The latest from Sue Monk Kidd introduces us to Ana, a courageous, intelligent woman who marries Jesus long before his public ministry begins. Based on meticulous historical research, this is a humanizing look at Jesus the man, as well as an inspiring story of a strong woman living in a society bent on her silence.” Good Housekeeping

“A testament to the author’s talent for creating both compelling characters and intriguing story lines . . . Historical details of daily life in the Roman Empire, strong female characters, and richly imagined glimpses into the philosophical communities and libraries in Egypt . . . make this an excellent book club choice . . . Don’t shy away from this historical fiction page-turner thinking that it falls into the inspirational genre. The intensity, bravery, and strength of character of Ana . . . will inspire readers but in a different way: to live authentically and remain true to oneself.” Library Journal 

“I kept having to close this novel and breathe deeply, again and again. A radical re­imagining of the New Testament that reflects on women's longing and silencing and awakening, it is a true masterpiece.” —Glennon Doyle, author of Untamed

“A well-researched novel about a young Jewish woman, who fights against cultural norms to realize the passion and potential inside her.” Good Morning America

“The beloved The Secret Life of Bees author spins new gold from one of the greatest stories ever told . . . this is a deeply tender story of two outliers who find each other: a very human Jesus full of fire, yearnings and doubts about being the Messiah, and an even more fiery Ana (Jesus calls her “Little Thunder"), who refuses the traditional role of women to find her own voice, and promote the voices of all women. Provocative, passionate and extremely moving, this is both a love story for the ages and a portrait of a woman way ahead of her biblical times.” AARP 

“Sue Monk Kidd skips historians’ 2,000-year-old ‘Did Jesus marry?’ debate, imagines he did, and asks, ‘So what would his wife have been like?’ Inserting Ana into biblical stories, Kidd crafts a surprising, absorbing narrative.” Real Simple

“A daring leap into historical fiction . . . Deeply researched and reverent, The Book of Longings explores the importance of women making their voices heard in a time when the powers that be strove to keep them silent.” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“Richly imagined . . . Ana’s ambition and strong sense of justice make her a sympathetic character for modern readers . . . In addition to providing a woman-centered version of New Testament events, Kidd’s novel is also a vibrant portrait of a woman striving to preserve and celebrate women’s stories—her own and countless others.” Publishers Weekly (starred) 

“If you have been waiting for a book like The Red Tent for the past 20 years, this is it. Give to fans of Anita Diamant and Marilynne Robinson.” Shelf Awareness

“An engrossing, briskly paced story in an appealing voice . . . the message about the importance of kindness and the power of women’s voices should resonate strongly with today’s readers.” Booklist

“[A] novel that imagines the life of an unforgettable woman, written with reverence to the topic it covers. This intricate story is an epic journey, which fans of The Red Tent will devour.”PopSugar
Product Details
ISBN: 9780525429760
ISBN-10: 052542976X
Publisher: Viking
Publication Date: April 21st, 2020
Pages: 432