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.
A. M. Stroud III, a former prosecutor in Louisiana, expresses regret for the role he played in sending Glenn Ford to death row in 1984. “I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.” Stroud says he presented dubious evidence from a forensic pathologist, precluded black jurors from the trial (Ford, since exonerated, is black), and ignored the fact that the appointed defense attorney had never before tried a criminal or capital case. “I . . . hope that providence will have more mercy for me than I showed Glenn Ford,” Stroud said in a letter to the editor of the Times of Shreveport. “But, I’m also sobered by the realization that I certainly am not deserving of it” (ABA Journal, March 25).