The Book of Longings Summary: A Story of Love, Conflict, and Empowerment


Sue Monk Kidd’s “The Book of Longings” is a captivating historical fiction novel that tells the story of Ana, a young woman living in Galilee during the time of Jesus. Ana’s story is one of love, conflict, and empowerment, as she struggles to pursue her passions and challenge the societal expectations placed upon her.

Plot Summary

Ana is a young woman raised in a wealthy family who dreams of becoming a writer. Her pent-up longings intensify when she is forced into an arranged marriage with Nathaniel, a man twenty years her senior. Despite her reservations, Ana comes to believe that Nathaniel is different from other men of his time and decides to marry him.

After their marriage, Ana and Nathaniel move to Nazareth, where Ana befriends Mary, the mother of Jesus. Ana becomes increasingly involved in Mary and Jesus’ lives, even as the occupation of Israel partially led by the Romans and the societal restrictions placed on women threaten to restrict her potential. As Ana’s scholarly pursuits and writing intensify, conflict, humor, and pathos emerge in her life.


“The Book of Longings” is a powerful narrative about neglected and silenced women, featuring a reverential approach to Jesus and a bold struggle to realize Ana’s potential inside her while living in a society that focuses on his humanity. The themes of love and conflict humor can also be found throughout the novel, as Ana navigates her relationships with Nathaniel, Mary, and the other characters in her life.

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Sue Monk Kidd’s Writing Style

Sue Monk Kidd engages in furtive scholarly pursuits and writes with a lyrical prose style that draws readers into Ana’s world. Her previous work, “The Secret Life of Bees,” also explored the narratives of neglected and silenced women, making “The Book of Longings” a natural extension of her literary interests.

Book’s Takeaway

There are several takeaways from “The Book of Longings” that can be applied to our daily lives:

Pursue your passions:

Ana’s love for writing is a driving force throughout the book. Despite the societal restrictions placed on women during that time, Ana continues to pursue her scholarly pursuits and write. This serves as a reminder to follow our passions and not let external factors hold us back.

Stand up for what you believe in Ana’s rebellion against societal expectations and determination to pursue her dreams is inspiring. Her bold struggle to realize her potential inside her despite societal restrictions is a reminder that we should stand up for what we believe in and fight for our own goals.

Appreciate the power of friendship:

Ana’s friendship with Mary, the mother of Jesus, plays a crucial role in her life. The support and encouragement that Ana receives from Mary and her aunt, Yaltha, demonstrate the importance of having positive and supportive relationships in our lives.

Recognize and challenge injustices:

The book sheds light on the occupation of Israel partially led by the Romans and the societal restrictions placed on women during that time. This serves as a reminder to recognize and challenge injustices in our own lives and in the world around us.

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Overall, “The Book of Longings” encourages readers to pursue their passions, stand up for what they believe in, appreciate the power of friendship, and recognize and challenge injustices. These takeaways can be applied to our daily lives to help us lead more fulfilling and purposeful lives.


“The Book of Longings” is an inspiring and thought-provoking novel that offers a new perspective on the life of Jesus and the women who surrounded him. Ana’s bold struggle for empowerment and the societal restrictions placed upon her will resonate with readers who appreciate complex, strong female protagonists.

With its engaging narrative and compelling themes, “The Book of Longings” is a must-read for fans of historical fiction and women’s literature.

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