From Publishers Weekly
A temperate entry in the rapidly overheating Da Vinci Code sweepstakes, Malarkey's second novel (following An Obvious Enchantment) illuminates the spiritual yearnings underlying and bolstering that boffo megaseller's more sensationalistic elements. Set in Egypt just after WWII, the novel fictionalizes the discovery of the Gnostic gospels, early Christian writings whose explosive intimations—that a growing nonauthoritarian sect was suppressed as Christianity was incorporated into the Roman empire—have been expertly explored by the great scholar Elaine Pagels. Malarkey, a founding editor of Tin House, is clearly enamored of these writings, but she makes a hash of the intrigue around their discovery. A faulty sense of period (a character at one point anachronistically calls for "security") and characters and situations straight from romance fiction ("This is the most beautiful part of the horse, and, I think, some women") mix uneasily with fairly sophisticated Bible readings, as young Brit Gemma Bastian follows her archeologist father to Cairo and gets mixed up with the household of his friend David Lazar—and David's sons. Such criticisms would be quibbles if Resurrection possessed the pulpy energy of Da Vinci, but it doesn't. Budding Gnostics and Essenes would be better off going straight to Pagels. (Aug.)
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Like The Da Vinci Code, Marlakey's novel professes to find the hidden meaning of Christianity buried behind deceptive orthodoxies. But here the secret comes from the ancient gnostic Gospels recovered from Nag Hammadi, Egypt, shortly after World War II. The sleuth who uncovers the Gospels, Gemma Basian, comes to Egypt to bury the remains of her archaeologist father, who has died in Cairo under suspicious circumstances._As Gemma investigates her father's death, she finds herself increasingly drawn into the mysteries that drew him to the land of Isis. The gnostic Gospels he finally discovers before his death reveal to him--and then to Gemma--everything he had been looking for: individual salvation without a church, sexual ecstasy rather than celibacy, Egyptian magic rather than Hebrew morality. The gnostic Gospels also accord women a much larger role than the New Testament, identifying Mary Magdalene as Jesus' lover and as the apostle first vouchsafed a vision of the Resurrection. The recovered words of gnostic scripture thus reconnect Gemma with her murdered father--and embolden her in challenging a society long darkened by ecclesiastical conspiracy. Although some readers may enjoy Malarkey's novel simply as a literary thriller, many will find themselves wrestling with theological conundrums. In fact, controversy will surely surround this novel, as readers who hail it as a daring expose clash with those who see it as a slander against their faith. Bryce Christensen
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