The Secret Magdalene by Ki Longfellow
A Novel

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It is a novel not to be taken lightly, but rather read carefully and at a leisurely pace to benefit from the deep emotion and powerful story contained within its pages. It is satisfying and moving, rich and thought provoking.
-History and Women.

Synopsis

Raised like sisters, Mariamne and Salome are indulged with riches, position, and learning-a rare thing for females in Jerusalem. But Mariamne has a further gift: an illness has left her with visions; she has the power of prophecy. It is her prophesying that drives the two girls to flee to Egypt, where they study philosophy, mathematics, and astronomy in the Great Library of Alexandria.

After seven years they return to a Judaea where many now believe John the Baptizer is the messiah. Salome too begins to believe, but Mariamne, now called Magdalene, is drawn to his cousin, Yeshu’a, a man touched by the divine in the same way she was during her days of illness. Together they speak of sharing their direct experience of God; but Yeshu’a unexpectedly gains a reputation as a healer, and as the ill and the troubled flock to him, he and Magdalene are forced to make a terrible decision.

This radical retelling of the greatest story ever told brings Mary Magdalene to life-not as a prostitute or demon-possessed-but as an educated woman who was truly the “apostle to the apostles.”


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Ki Longfellow

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Born on Staten Island, New York, to a French-Irish mother and an Iroquois father, Ki Longfellow grew up in Hawaii and Marin County, California, but ended up living in France and England for many years. She is the widow of a British national treasure, Vivian Stanshall, who dreamed her name was Ki. As Ki Longfellow-Stanshall, she created and sailed the Thekla, a 180 foot Baltic Trader, to Bristol, England where it became the Old Profanity Showboat. It remains there today as a Bristol landmark. On it, she and Vivian wrote and staged a unique musical for the sheer joy of it. "Stinkfoot, a Comic Opera," garnered a host of delighted, if slightly puzzled, national reviews. Her first book, "China Blues," now republished, was the subject of a bidding war. "China Blues," and her second novel, "Chasing Women," introduced Longfellow to Hollywood...a long hard, but ultimately fascinating, trip. When Vivian died, Ki stopped writing. Living on Standing Room Only Farm in Vermont, time did not heal, but it tempered. Eventually Ki began writing again. She chose to explore the figure of Mary Magdalene in her novel "The Secret Magdalene." Nancy Savoca, a brilliant independent film maker (winner of the Sundance Grand Jury Prize with her first film, "True Love") traveled all the way to Vermont to option the book as her next film. Ki's second book about personal divinity is "Flow Down Like Silver," a novel about the numinous and gifted Hypatia of Alexandria, a tragically ignored woman of towering intellect who searched through that intellect for what Mary Magdalene knew in her heart. "Houdini Heart," Longfellow’s first book of psychological horror is a stunning departure from her usual work. "Houdini Heart" has been favorably compared to the works of Shirley Jackson and H.P. Lovecraft.
 
Published March 27, 2007 by Crown. 450 pages
Genres: History, Religion & Spirituality, Literature & Fiction, Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Secret Magdalene
All: 4 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 2

Publishers Weekly

Below average
on Dec 07 2015

Longfellow (who first published this novel in 2005 at a small startup press named for Mariamne's donkey, Eio) is more passionate about research and philosophy than plot or character. Readers looking for a fast-paced thriller will be disappointed.

Read Full Review of The Secret Magdalene: A Novel | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

Book Reporter

Above average
Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt on Jan 23 2011

In THE SECRET MAGDALENE, Mary Magdalene steps out of the shadows and onto center stage. Through the fictional voice of Mariamne, Mary Magdalene is elevated to a position of prominence as a disciple and the beloved companion of Jesus Christ. This is a wildly imaginative novel that undoubtedly will attract a lot of attention...

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Historical Novel Society

Above average
Reviewed by Ann Chamberlin on Feb 01 2007

Often our heroine’s wanderings have more to do with stretching the new fabric to fit old forms than to motivation or believability. Sometimes the real issues are shied away from. Ironically like chunks of Archon darkness weighing down true slivers of Gnostic light, the chunks of philosophy and convoluted connections keep the story from soaring.

Read Full Review of The Secret Magdalene: A Novel

History and Women.

Good
Reviewed by Mirella Patzer on Apr 29 2008

It is a novel not to be taken lightly, but rather read carefully and at a leisurely pace to benefit from the deep emotion and powerful story contained within its pages. It is satisfying and moving, rich and thought provoking.

Read Full Review of The Secret Magdalene: A Novel

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