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Mary, Called Magdalene [Kindle Edition]

Margaret George
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (144 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $17.00
Kindle Price: $11.01
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Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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Book Description

The New York Times-bestselling author of Elizabeth I brilliantly reimagines the story of the most mysterious woman in the Bible

Was Mary Magdalene a prostitute, a female divinity figure, a church leader, or all of those? Biblical references to her are tantalizingly brief, but we do know that she was the first person to whom the risen Christ appeared—and the one commissioned to tell others the good news, earning her the ancient honorific, "Apostle to the Apostles." Today, Mary continues to spark controversy, curiosity, and veneration. In a vivid re-creation of Mary Magdalene's life story, Margaret George convincingly captures this renowned woman's voice as she moves from girlhood to womanhood, becomes part of the circle of disciples, and comes to grips with the divine. Grounded in biblical scholarship and secular research, this fascinating historical novel is also, ultimately, "the diary of a soul."

Editorial Reviews Review

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

From Publishers Weekly

George, whose niche is historical and biographical novels, begins this one ploddingly with suspenseless reportage on Mary Magdalene's pleasant, middle-class childhood in a prosperous fishing village. Scattered references to the idol/demon that will eventually possess Mary are intended as fateful omens, but her slow road to madness gets much less play than her conventional and uninteresting life. The novel improves considerably when Mary finds herself possessed by one demon, and then, helplessly, by six more. Her valiant efforts to first hide her possession and then find a cure are masterfully described. When a prophet named Jesus finally casts out her demons, she celebrates, only to realize that she must make a heartrending choice between following the prophet or going back to her husband, baby and extended family. At this point, George's novel becomes a safe, though readable, retelling of the gospels. Her main deviation from orthodoxy is her insistence that there were 16 disciples 12 men and four women who were equal in Jesus' eyes. Additionally, George emphasizes Mary's prophetic visions and Jesus' celebration of them, and in doing so gives credence to gnostic accounts of mysticism among the disciples. While some may compare this novel with Anita Diamant's The Red Tent, it bears a much stronger resemblance to Walter Wangerin's biographical novel about the apostle Paul. Like Wangerin's work, this imagines nothing seriously objectionable to even the most devout Christians. As such, it lacks the transgressive power of The Red Tent, but is still a well-researched and thought-provoking book.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1165 KB
  • Print Length: 900 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0330438727
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reissue edition (May 27, 2003)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0028655PO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #98,321 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
63 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An imaginative telling of Mary Magdalene's life October 29, 2003
After reading The DaVinci Code, I became very interested in Mary Magdalene and her place in history. While she is not cast in the same role as in TDC (which I won't divulge here for those who haven't read the book), I almost like her place in this telling better. She is written as a strong woman who after many years of struggling between possession by pagan gods and her faith in God, is healed by Jesus and becomes one of his disciples.
Since no one knows the true story of MM, Margaret George had to create an entire life for her, giving her the roles of daughter in a pious Jewish family, wife of a man she questions her love for, mother to a daughter whom she conceived after making a deal with one of her pagan possessors, and loyal friend to a girl who follows a different branch of Judaism of which her family doesn't approve.
The book starts out slowly laying a foundation for Mary's life, but read on. After she initially meets Jesus when she is a young girl and finds the idol that becomes the source of her possession problems, things begin to pick up speed. The second half of the book is about her life as a disciple of Jesus and the Passion from her viewpoint. It's also about her undying love for her daughter who was taken from her at the age of two after she began following Jesus and her family disowned her.
As usual, George has done an incredible amount of research into her subject and has written yet another fictional biography that will take you to another world.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Understand your expectations before buying this book October 14, 2003
I always find it interesting when a collection of book reviews cover the entire spectrum, from "absolutely hated it" to "it was the best book I have ever read." While it is true that opinions are like belly buttons; everybody has one, it might help you decide whether to read this book if your expectations are realistic.
First and foremost, this book is pure fiction. George has clearly done her research and weaves information from the bible, the apocrypha, oral tradition and history into the story. Thus, for many readers (some more than others) it "feels" historical. But, it is fiction.
She has created "characters" from real historical figures. Some reviewers find them poorly developed, and others don't like the way in which the characters were developed. The bottom line is that nobody knows what these people were really like. George has risen to the challenge of building on what little is known to create characters who are more fully developed than they are in biblical or historical accounts. In so doing some readers, especially those who have very strong feelings themselves about who these characters were, undoubtably will be disappointed. Personally, I loved the way that the character of Judas was developed. Although I had always sort of dismissed him as a disciple, other than in his role as betrayer, I found it very thought provoking to consider him more closely. On the other hand, I had more trouble with her portrayal of Jesus. Although I wouldn't describe the character of Jesus as "flaky" as another reader did, Jesus is not portrayed in the way I would have portrayed him. But, I didn't write the story and the whole point is that it IS A STORY.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Based on a true story... February 5, 2007
You probably know the story, or at least scant details, but you don't know enough for the story to be spoiled and I won't give it away either because in this case, the delight is in the details.

This isn't one of those shameless books that base a premise on a disproved hoax and play up to the conspiracy crowd for sensation and controversy just to make a quick & dirty buck.

No, "Mary Called Magdalene" is based on facts consistent with the New Testament, with the Gospel according to Mary, with the Gnostic texts, and with writings of the early Church Fathers as well as with various historical secular texts.

I agree with Simon Jenkins that "Facts should be taskmasters, and there is no exemption for fiction." As he wrote in "The Guardian" on May 26, 2006 and said: "Historical novelists must not manipulate an audience's veneration for the truth with their phony verisimilitude". I personally found no abuse of dramatic license in this book.

The author, Margaret George is the renowned historical author of "Henry VII" and has thoroughly researched her facts then added details that would be logical consequences of those facts or plausible reasons for them. In addition to all that research, the author completed a seven year course in bible study covering 60 of the 66 books and traveled extensively both in distance and duration through the middle east. There is a great author interview in the back of the book that covers her background and the motivations for her decisions & choices. But wait, that's not all; there is also a great list of in depth questions for discussion.
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61 of 74 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Margaret, Called Mediocre..... April 21, 2005
By nto62
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Margaret George was once counted among my favorite authors. I've read all four of her books: Henry VIII was outstanding, Mary, Queen of Scots, slightly less so, Cleopatra, less so again, and then this, Mary, Called Magdalene. The trajectory is unmistakable. Surprisingly, George, who did such a remarkable job evoking time and place in her earlier efforts, falls squarely on her posterior with this one. The modern vernacular employed and the contemporary mannerisms of characters render hollow any image of 1st-century Roman Palestine she was trying to create.

One also detects an agenda at work that has less to do with Biblical research and more to do with fulfilling the author's wishes. True, historical fiction is still fiction, and authors of such works may write what they wish, but they should also realize that as their revisionist tendencies subtract from the former and add to the latter, the quality of their effort may wane.

To be fair, the book ends somewhat better than it starts, but it is decidedly not on par with George's earlier efforts. It is the 1st century through the prevailing 21st-century lens. It is, disappointingly, a bit of a masquerade. 3 stars.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars She loved it. Shared it with her daughter
Gift to wife. She loved it. Shared it with her daughter. Wants another copy.
Published 19 days ago by RRH
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
excellent, good price
Published 1 month ago by Robert L. Ellis
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Book was in very good condition, arrived promptly, I'm very happy with it; thank you
Published 2 months ago by Kim
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Wonderful introduction to historical fiction for me! I loved this bookx
Published 2 months ago by dz_rn
4.0 out of 5 stars Possible telling of Mary Magdalene's life
I enjoyed reading this book. It's a novelization of Mary Magdalene's life -- it's possible that her life happened this way. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Karlie Laumer
4.0 out of 5 stars good product.
As advertised. Quick delivery, good product.
Published 3 months ago by chellmeck
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
wonderful book
Published 3 months ago by Gurutej
5.0 out of 5 stars But I loved getting a feeling of the life and culture that ...
Interesting way to look at Mary Magdalene. Must of course remember that this is historical FICTION. But I loved getting a feeling of the life and culture that she and Jesus may... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Carli Thomas
4.0 out of 5 stars Great author and story
This story made Mary Magdalene come to life for me. Easy to believe this was how it really was to be with Jesus' followers.
Published 6 months ago by Madonna J Braun
3.0 out of 5 stars Amusing
This piece of fiction was written better than `Helen of Troy`. Personally I would not recommend this book to anyone. Too many times people read things like this as factual. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Michel R. Dever
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More About the Author

Margaret George specializes in epic fictional biographies of historical figures, taking pains to make them as factually accurate as possible without compromising the drama. Her THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF HENRY VIII will have its 25th anniversary this September, and continues to be popular. ABC-TV based its 1999 Emmy-nominated "Cleopatra" miniseries on her THE MEMOIRS OF CLEOPATRA. All of her books have been bestsellers, with twenty-one foreign translations.

Margaret's father was in the Foreign Service and so she lived overseas for her early life, in such different places as tropical Taiwan, desert Israel, and cold war Berlin, all of which were great training for a novelist to be. She started writing 'books' about the same time as she could write at all, mainly for her own entertainment. It was a diversion she never outgrew. Her published works are: THE AUTOBIOGAPHY OF HENRY VIII, MARY QUEEN OF SCOTLAND AND THE ISLES, THE MEMOIRS OF CLEOPATRA, MARY CALLED MAGDALENE, HELEN OF TROY, ELIZABETH I, and an illustrated children's book, LUCILLE LOST.

Margaret lives in Madison, Wisconsin, and Washington DC, and has a sextagenarian tortoise as a pet.

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