Of all the women in the Bible, perhaps no one's presence has been as constantly reinterpreted as that of Mary Magdalene. Was she a prostitute? A prophet? In Margaret George's epic historical novel, Mary, Called Magdalene (Geroge's previous subjects include Henry VIII, Mary, Queen of Scots, and Cleopatra), Mary comes alive as one of Jesus' first believers, a woman of infallible visions and a faith that earns her the title "Apostle to the Apostles." With numerous biblical and scholarly texts serving as the core of this intriguing woman's story, George recreates the world of Galilean fishermen and the oppressions of the Jewish people under Roman rule. Cast out from her family after Jesus expels the demons that have ravaged her mind, Mary follows the man from Nazareth until they receive attention from the skeptical hordes and the Roman magistrates controlling Jerusalem.
Mary, from beginning to end of this giant undertaking, is a woman who struggles to reconcile her absence from her young daughter's life with the chance to be part of something important. Through the lens of her ever-inquisitive mind, the story covers the formation of Jesus' ragtag band of disciples and the crucifixion, and ends with Mary's mission as the head of the Christian church in Ephesus, where she died at the age of 90. What makes this a compelling read is that Mary's story connects humanity with faith in a way that's possible to understand, whatever our contemporary beliefs. --Emily Russin [via]