Monday, October 11, 2010

The Book of Love by Kathleen McGowan

Title/Author: The Book of Love by Kathleen McGowan
Publisher/Date published: A.W. Bruna Uitgevers, first published in 2008 by Simon & Schuster Inc.
How I got this book: I bought it after reading the first one in the series The Expected One. The picture is of my Dutch version which translates as 'The Jezus Mystery'.
Why I read this book: I really liked the first book in the series, which deals with the story of Mary Magdalene.

Goodreads summary: "Maureen Paschal thought she might rest and work on her book after discovering the gospel written by Mary Magdalene that revealed Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married. The truth of their story rocked the world and made Maureen a target of those who did not like her discovery and a heroine to those who did.
Then Maureen receives a strange package containing what looks like an ancient letter written in Latin and signed with a symbol. She discovers that its author is an extraordinary woman whom history has overlooked -- or covered up -- Countess Matilda of Tuscany, and in the letter Matilda demands the return of her "most precious books and documents." Maureen soon finds herself in a race across Italy and France, where hidden dangers await her and her lover, BĂ©renger, as they begin to realize that they are on the trail of another explosive discovery: the Book of Love, the Gospel written in Jesus' own hand.
As Maureen learns more about Matilda, an eleventh century warrior countess who was secretly married to a pope, she begins to see the eerie connections between herself and Matilda, connections she must trace to their source if she is to stop the wrong people from finding the Book of Love and hiding it forever."

Maureen is again on a mission to uncover the true story of a woman who was also of the bloodline of Mary Magdalene and Jezus Christ. Wikipedia can't tell me why Matilda of Tuscany's body was moved to the rest in the Vatican, but in this story she is not only the lover of Pope Gregory VII, but also his wife and the mother of his child. Maureen finds out Matilda was one of the expected ones as well, with the same red hair she herself has. She was educated in the ways of the Book of Love, the gospel written by Jezus Christ himself when she was a child.
Through a series of visions and excerpts of the Book of Love, we learn the story of Matilda and even of Sheba and Solomon.

I appreciate the storytelling that McGowan is really good at, but I didn't like this book as much as I liked the first one, which relates the story of Mary Magdalene and her life with Jezus Christ. I'm not a religious person and the views of the church are a bit too confining to me, which is maybe why I enjoyed this other version of the story told by McGowan so much. It describes Jezus Christ as an incredible leader and good man, who was married and had children with Mary Magdalene. I'm intrigued by this idea and the story was beautiful.

I'm a bit disappointed to say that I didn't get into the story of Matilda and her life as much as I did with Mary Magdalene, however much I wanted to. Though the woman does sound interesting and the fact alone that her body was moved to the Vatican is enough to spark my interest. Stories like this, about the Church covering up part of history, always make me wonder exactly what is hidden in the archives of the Vatican.

This wasn't light reading in any way you can imagine, it was a bit hard to get into at first and it doesn't really get much easier after that. But I'm glad I finished it, though I'm not sure about reading the final part in the trilogy. This could have been just a fictional biography, the parts with Maureen finding out about a lot of things didn't really add to the story in my opinion.

My rating: 3 stars

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