An idea-filled and richly atmospheric elaboration on the story of Jesus and Mary Magdalene.

WOMAN IN RED

MAGDALENE SPEAKS

A debut novel focuses on Mary Magdalene and the hidden history of Christianity.

Rose’s big, ambitious book takes the familiar elements of the Jesus story as found in the New Testament, shifts and transforms them, and then extrapolates an intricate next chapter to that narrative. The center of the tale is Mary Magdalene (called the Magdalene), a recurring character in the four Gospels. The novel opens with the Magdalene at the foot of the cross, watching her husband, Jesus (here named “Jesu”), die at the hands of the Romans. Suddenly, she finds herself “a wife without a husband, a disciple without a master,” adrift in a world without the man she and all of his followers consider the Messiah. Joseph of Arimathea orders the body taken down and entombed. He reveals to the Magdalene that he secretly drugged the crucified Jesu—and now he hopes she can revive him. When she fails, Joseph and some allies remove the body from the tomb to prevent the Jewish authorities from parading the corpse to dispel the public perception of Jesu as a supernatural being. Joseph convinces Mary to tell Jesu’s disciples that he rose from the dead (“To declare Jesu as the resurrected prince of peace, in spirit, would indeed pave the way for remarkable change,” she thinks, “as well as the betterment of society at large”). But soon she learns he actually did survive, although he is severely weakened. The two leave Judea, and the vivid narrative follows the Magdalene to Western Europe and Jesu to India, with increasingly lengthy philosophical and religious digressions along the way. Millions of The Da Vinci Code readers will feel right at home in the world Rose creates, a realm in which Mary Magdalene is a key religious figure and has children with a very human Jesus, who survives his Crucifixion. The author handles it all with skill and confidence, despite occasional minor missteps (somebody is “muttering something illegible,” for instance). The tale of Jesu and the Magdalene’s subsequent adventures is made into page-turning reading.

An idea-filled and richly atmospheric elaboration on the story of Jesus and Mary Magdalene.

Pub Date: Feb. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68433-429-2

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 1, 2020

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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