Ten years ago Sue Monk Kidd was a traditionally grounded Christian writer. But like her engaging narrator Lily Owens, Kidd is on a spiritual journey, heralded by her 1996 nonfiction work The Dance of the Dissident Daughter and confirmed in this captivating first novel about love and forgiveness.
Midrash refers to the rabbinic tradition of interpretation that explores scripture beyond its literal meanings. The verse by verse interpretations generated by midrashic commentary bind the Talmud, the rabbinic traditions and the Bible into a complex, inexhaustible source of religious significance.
Set in 14th-century France during the time of the Inquisition against the heretics known as the Cathari, this is a story about love and obsession. Its passions finally achieve mature expression in an unlikely threesome: the sodomite cobbler Arnaud Lizier, his mute wife, Grazida, and the concupiscent priest of Montaillou, Pierre Clergue.
In the closing lines of Louise Erdrich's new novel, Father Damien Modeste, who has been the priest at the Objibwe reservation of Little No Horse for many years, is being buried in the nearby lake. "As the dark water claimed him, his features blurred. His body wavered for a time between the surface and the feminine depth below," Erdrich writes.
Canadian writer Margaret Atwood may be most familiar to religious audiences for her 1986 novel The Handmaid's Tale, which satirizes the religious hypocrisy of the right, the political pretensions of the left and the dangerous complacency of the vast uncommitted middle.
On a beautiful Tuesday afternoon, Joseph and Celice, both middle-aged professors of zoology, revisit the remote beach that was the landscape of their courtship and first passion. Joseph is hoping for an amorous encounter, and Celice heads into the dunes looking for a mattress of grass to cushion their adventure.