Sunday, June 17, 2012

Book Review: Mary Magdalene

Mary Magdalene. Diana Wallis Taylor. 2012. Revell. 304 pages.

The early morning breeze lifted Mary's shawl, exposing her long dark hair, and brought with it the tangy smell of seaweed. 

I have really enjoyed Diana Wallis Taylor's works of biblical fiction: Journey to the Well and Martha. I was pleased to be able to review her newest book, Mary Magdalene.

While this is a work of fiction, the second half of the novel does follow what is revealed in the gospel accounts. Taylor has given Mary Magdalene quite the back story in this novel. The first half is bittersweet, at best. Readers meet a young girl, Mary, who is beautiful, bright, quite promising. Her father is allowing her to learn Scriptures, to learn of God and his commandments and promises. Nathan is part apprentice in her father's boat building enterprise, part tutor to the young girl. But when Mary's kidnapped and held for ransom, well, it's the beginning of a tragic story. Psychologically traumatized, Mary can never quite recover fully even after she's been restored to her family, even after her father's wounds are healed. She's been struck with an illness, a terror, that leaves her mad and not quite in control of herself or her body. Some even say she acts possessed. The truth is, she's not quite well, she never knows when her illness or madness will strike. She could be perfectly fine one minute, and not so fine the next. Her father and mother do worry that no one will want to marry her, but, Nathan has fallen in love with her for better or worse. He loves her even though she's ill, even though there are times she's not herself at all. He loves her truly and deeply and wants to take care of her and protect her. He longs to find a way to heal her mind, body, and spirit. But as the years go by, things don't improve, they only get worse. Mary loses her father and her mother. And Nathan is having a hard time with Mary; he loves her still, but she's not capable of being his wife, of loving him. She can't run a house, she can't even take care of herself. She needs constant tending and supervision, and it's a tiring task. But then one day Nathan hears of a man, a man some are calling a prophet, a healer, a messiah. Could the rumors be true? Could this man called Jesus heal and restore Mary? He'll do anything it takes to make sure Mary meets Jesus....

I did enjoy this one. But it was so sad in a way. I really came to love Nathan, to admire him. And I wanted a happier ending for the two of them. I was happy that Mary met the Savior and was healed. And I was happy to see her come to love him and serve him and follow him closely. I liked seeing these events through her eyes. But. It wasn't as satisfying as I was hoping. It was good though.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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