IT’S BEEN AT THE TOP of my TBR pile since it arrived on my doorstep in April. In fact, I was so excited about this new Sue Monk Kidd novel I pre-ordered it months before the release date.
And still it took until December for me to pick it up.
Now I know why. The Book of Longings has been the perfect December read for me, a literary work that pulled me deep into its pages and beckoned me wander there, sharing the ancient world of first century Palestine and Egypt walking alongside Ana, the wife of Jesus.
I know, I know—but take a deep breath. The novel is a work of fiction, albeit one that is so beautifully imagined the immersion in the place and culture of that time feels every moment real. Kidd’s research was impeccable; the sights and sounds and smells are three dimensional, I swear. Plus there is something so beautiful and remarkable and important in the way the story allows you to experience Jesus as fully human in the years before his ministry began, as the heart of the story is centered there. About that, Kidd writes: ‘I wanted the story to be about Jesus the man and not God the son, who he would become … writing from a novelist’s perspective and not a religious one, I was drawn to his humanity.”
I loved The Book of Longings, and as I suggest it to you as a recommended read, I can’t resist sharing this miraculous little moment that happened this morning. I was reading in bed, and just as I turned to the last page, ready to savor the emotional last paragraphs, I heard the chimes of Eastminster Church as they began to ring outside my window.
Well that’s eerie and lovely, I thought, looking up from the book. Wonder what hymn it is?
Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel.
~ XXOO ~
FROM THE BOOK JACKET of THE BOOK OF LONGINGS
“I am Ana. I was the wife of Jesus ben Joseph of Nazareth. All my life, longings lived inside me, rising up like nocturnes to wail and sing through the night. That my husband bent his heart to mine on our thin straw mat and listened was the kindness I most loved in him. What he heard was my life begging to be born.”
OTHER FAVORITE DECEMBER READS
The Christmas Letters, by Lee Smith
In The Christmas Letters, three generations of women reveal their stories of love and marriage in the letters they write to family and friends during the holidays. It’s a down-home Christmas story about tradition, family, and the shared experiences of women.
Winter Solstice, by Rosamunde Pilcher
Five people buffeted by life’s difficulties come together at a rundown estate house in Northern Scotland during a revelatory Winter Solstice.
The Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey
Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart–he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season’s first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone–but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees. This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.
NOTE: I would love to hear your favorite winter read suggestions if you care to leave a comment below. I’ll compile our list and joyfully share it!
30 Days of Joy