Genre: Biblical Fiction; Historical Fiction
Source: Received from publicist for review
“Blood and Silk: The Hidden Love Story of Mary of Magdala and Jesus of Nazareth is author Carol McKay’s gift to everyone fascinated by the life of Mary of Magdala-Mary Magdalene-and her often misunderstood relationship to Jesus of Nazareth. In this beautifully crafted historical novel, the reader is guided through a time rich with art and architecture, and fraught with change and controversy. Mary’s narration introduces us to first-century Judea, when the atmosphere crackled with fear, and determination of friend or foe was often difficult, if not impossible. As much as theologians paint the story about Mary and Jesus as straightforward and even simple in nature, the author reminds us that theirs was a love weighed down and complicated by the politics of the day. The story of Mary, and then Mary and Jesus, is intricate and often as perilous as the times in which they lived. Founded on historical accuracy and an eye for a well-told story, this is a novel that will fascinate and delight.”
Since I discovered the Biblical fiction sub-genre of historical fiction I have been intrigued at reading more expanded accounts of some of the popular stories from the Bible. Prior to this book, I had read and very much enjoyed Eve by Elissa Elliott and The Triumph of Deborah by Eva Etzioni-Halevy (links to reviews). I was interested in taking on this book because I am not extremely familiar with the content of the New Testament as I have always tended to lean toward the Old Testament. I wanted to take the opportunity to stretch my reading horizons and try something different.
I hate to say this, but I didn’t absolutely love this book. It was hard to get into what was happening and to follow the flow in some sections. At times I felt like there was a complete passage being retold word for word and it didn’t add to anything. I also have to question the editing of this book – it was a finished copy yet there were many instances where there were problems with singular and plural nouns and many grammatical errors – when added to my struggle to get into the story it just made it more of a turn off. I also didn’t really feel that much of a love story between Mary and Jesus. They would interact with each other here and there but I feel that the author left too much unsaid and to the imagination. For a book whose subtitle is The Hidden Love Story of Mary of Magdala and Jesus of Nazareth, I just didn’t feel the connection.
There is a positive side to this review though – I loved the way the setting, culture, and people were portrayed. Settings in this book include Jerusalem, Alexandria, and areas of Greece and France. You really got the feel for how the people lived day to day and how they celebrated their special occasions. There was also a lot of discussion of the politics of the period and how that had an impact on the life of the people. This is one of my favorite periods to read about and it was rendered beautifully.
My recommendation would be that this is certainly a book for those who are interested in the New Testament particularly. Those who have a casual interest in Biblical fiction might want to skip this one.
This is the author’s first novel. You can visit Carol McKay’s website for additional information about the book or you can visit the fan page on Facebook. You can also read an excerpt of the book if you are interested.
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