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What if the man you loved betrayed your brother?
Two thousand years ago, while a young Jewish preacher from Nazareth was gathering followers among the people of Galilee, his sister swept floors and dreamed of learning to read.
In Leslie Cannold’s story, it is the women of Nazareth who take centre stage.
The rebellious, gifted Rachael, consigned by her sex to a life of drudgery.
Bindy, the crone who teaches her the skills of the healer.
Shona her sister, the victim of a harsh social code, and their mother Miriame, a woman seemingly unable to love.
When Rachael falls in love with her brother’s dearest friend, the rebel Judah of Iscariot, it seems that at least one of the women of Nazareth may find happiness. Then a message comes from her brother in Jerusalem. And the events begin to unfold that will change not just Rachael’s life, but the world—forever.
Sample the first chapter here:
Listen to a review of The Book of Rachael on Radio National’s The Book Show.
Hear an interview with Leslie on ABC Darwin’s The Guestroom.
Read Jane Sullivan’s article on the Sydney Morning Herald’s website.
Watch Leslie Cannold talk about writing The Book of Rachael in an interview with the First Tuesday Book Club at the Melbourne Writers Festival.
Read Leslie’s playlist of songs to accompany the book at Largehearted Boy.
Read an interview with Books+Publishing.
‘Cannold walks an interesting line between faith and history here, as she explores an alternative Virgin birth storyline (what happens to unmarried women in this society who fall pregnant means, inevitably, that they are keen to stress the intervention of a god).’
‘This retelling of the Jesus story will resonate with women of faith who wish to forge their own path and stay true to their values…This is a good pick for readers who enjoyed Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent or Alice Hoffman’s The Dovekeepers.’
‘Cannold offers a thought-provoking, heartfelt, and tragic but redemptive tale about the difficulties of discovering and defining one’s identity in a world that seeks unendingly to take that decision away.’
‘There are dangers in attempting to fictionalise such a well-loved story as the life of Christ. First, the resulting account might offend. It might collapse into cliché. Or it might be filled with contemporary sensibilities, creating a world too familiar to our own. Though The Book of Rachael skirts each of these minefields, it is testament to the literary skills of Leslie Cannold that this debut novel avoids them.’
‘The church has spent millenia writing women out of history. In the wonderful Book of Rachael, Leslie Cannold returns them to their rightful place at the centre of one of our most powerful stories.’
‘Passionate, eloquent and compelling, a terrific idea beautifully realised—I couldn’t put it down.’
‘The Book of Rachael should be celebrated for its intelligence, eloquence and its fascinating version of well-known events. Cannold sustains her reader’s interest from the first page to the last, offering us a credible explanation for one of the most incredible stories in our culture. Indeed, this is all the more impressive when we learn that The Book of Rachael is Cannold’s debut novel, a remarkably confident and assured beginning to what I hope will be a long career in literature.’
‘Engaging and fast-paced prose…a compelling read.’ Four-star review
‘Cannold deftly creates a rich fictional world.’
‘A beautifully narrated story about equality, independence and love.’
‘Cannold successfully pulls the human stories from the mire of religion and self-interest that opened up in the days immediately following the crucifixion. Food for thought, indeed, and quite a page-turner.’
‘Enthralling and thought-provoking…I was completely drawn in to [the women of Nazareth’s] world and found it almost impossible to put down…[Leslie Cannold] succeeds in not only writing women back into history but also in examining one our most enduring religious stories.’