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Mary: A Flesh-And-Blood Biography of the Virgin Mother

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Arguably the most influential of all women throughout history, Mary, the Virgin Mother is also, paradoxically, the least known. In this unprecedented brilliantly wrought biography, Mary comes believably to life. We are so used to the legendary image of the Madonna that the very idea of her as a real person sets the eyes alight. Starting with the dark-skinned, hard-musc Arguably the most influential of all women throughout history, Mary, the Virgin Mother is also, paradoxically, the least known. In this unprecedented brilliantly wrought biography, Mary comes believably to life. We are so used to the legendary image of the Madonna that the very idea of her as a real person sets the eyes alight. Starting with the dark-skinned, hard-muscled girl barely out of adolescence when she gave birth, Lesley Hazleton weaves together the many facets of Mary's existence: peasant villager, wise woman and healer, activist, mother, teacher, and yes, virgin, though in a sense we have long forgotten. She follows her through the worst any mother can experience-the excruciating death of her child-and then looks at how she transforms grief into wisdom, disaster into renewal. Strong and courageous, the source of her son's powers of healing and wisdom, the Mary we see here did not merely assent to her role in history, but actively chose it, and lived it to the fullest. As a former psychologist and political reporter with deep roots in both Judaism and Catholicism, Hazleton has drawn on years of Middle East experience as well as on anthropology, history, theology, and above all, empathy to reconstruct Mary's life. The woman she discovers is neither demystified nor diminished, but on the contrary, all the more meaningful and admirable. By honoring her reality, Hazleton has given her back to herself-and to us.


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Arguably the most influential of all women throughout history, Mary, the Virgin Mother is also, paradoxically, the least known. In this unprecedented brilliantly wrought biography, Mary comes believably to life. We are so used to the legendary image of the Madonna that the very idea of her as a real person sets the eyes alight. Starting with the dark-skinned, hard-musc Arguably the most influential of all women throughout history, Mary, the Virgin Mother is also, paradoxically, the least known. In this unprecedented brilliantly wrought biography, Mary comes believably to life. We are so used to the legendary image of the Madonna that the very idea of her as a real person sets the eyes alight. Starting with the dark-skinned, hard-muscled girl barely out of adolescence when she gave birth, Lesley Hazleton weaves together the many facets of Mary's existence: peasant villager, wise woman and healer, activist, mother, teacher, and yes, virgin, though in a sense we have long forgotten. She follows her through the worst any mother can experience-the excruciating death of her child-and then looks at how she transforms grief into wisdom, disaster into renewal. Strong and courageous, the source of her son's powers of healing and wisdom, the Mary we see here did not merely assent to her role in history, but actively chose it, and lived it to the fullest. As a former psychologist and political reporter with deep roots in both Judaism and Catholicism, Hazleton has drawn on years of Middle East experience as well as on anthropology, history, theology, and above all, empathy to reconstruct Mary's life. The woman she discovers is neither demystified nor diminished, but on the contrary, all the more meaningful and admirable. By honoring her reality, Hazleton has given her back to herself-and to us.

30 review for Mary: A Flesh-And-Blood Biography of the Virgin Mother

  1. 4 out of 5

    Judith Shadford

    Rather infuriating, actually. Hazleton has lived in Israel/Palestine and has a good grasp of local color. But her agenda is rarely out of sight. I rather enjoyed Jezebel, sort of. There was real information and some plausible novelizing. But her (Hazelton's) need to recreate a society of "strong" females leads her to dismiss, nearly out of hand, credence of Scriptural authenticity. This young Jewish girl, Mary, in her version, has a grandmother but no mother. Sits around the campfire listening t Rather infuriating, actually. Hazleton has lived in Israel/Palestine and has a good grasp of local color. But her agenda is rarely out of sight. I rather enjoyed Jezebel, sort of. There was real information and some plausible novelizing. But her (Hazelton's) need to recreate a society of "strong" females leads her to dismiss, nearly out of hand, credence of Scriptural authenticity. This young Jewish girl, Mary, in her version, has a grandmother but no mother. Sits around the campfire listening to travellers' stories--a girl unattended, after dark? And pouring out evening offerings to Isis, in a Jewish community with its own synagogue? With the wealth of really fine biblical scholarship readily available these days, substituting one's own predelictions instead of due diligence, seems an act of supreme self-indulgence.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Tristy

    This should really be described as a fictional biography, if only for the very reason that the history of the Virgin Mary (and just about all women from that time in history) has been just about completely wiped out. I thought often of The Red Tent, while reading this. I think Diamant had a much better approach than Lesley Hazleton does in Mary. Diamant fully embraces the history and research, but adds her own fictional writing gifts to create a powerful and potentially historically accurate tal This should really be described as a fictional biography, if only for the very reason that the history of the Virgin Mary (and just about all women from that time in history) has been just about completely wiped out. I thought often of The Red Tent, while reading this. I think Diamant had a much better approach than Lesley Hazleton does in Mary. Diamant fully embraces the history and research, but adds her own fictional writing gifts to create a powerful and potentially historically accurate tale of women's life in biblical time. Hazleton could have done that easily with this book and had a bestseller on her hands, but instead, she chooses to call it a biography that "blends imagination and fact." If the subject matter wasn't such a hot topic and so controversial, she might even have been able to pull it off, but when she makes huge leaps about what Mary is thinking and feeling it feels hollow and inaccurate. It just doesn't work to be reading the fascinating and totally factual political history of Palestine and then to read that Mary was trained as a midwife by her legendary grandmother, Salome, which is based on nothing but Hazleton's imagination. It's jarring and takes away from the wonderful experience of reading this book. It's a shame that Hazleton made this writing choice, because she does use exhaustive and fascinating research that is incredibly valuable to anyone interested in the "real" life of Mary, the "Mother of God." The book works much better when she steps back from her fantasy imagination of Mary's life and talks to the actual facts - like her wonderful discussion of when Jesus was actually born and how old he actually was when he was crucified. I also appreciate her chapter on Mary's "virginity" and what that could have really meant, which includes a fascinating breaking down of the original Aramaic which tells us that a "Virgin" of that time was any woman who was not married. So a pregnant virgin is any woman who was raped or had sex out of wed-lock (and quite an interesting thought that Mary may have been raped and birthed the Son of God - which Hazleton very delicately steps around). It's a great undertaking by Hazleton and for that I have nothing but respect. If you can get past the "fantasy biography" (or "Christian Haggadah," as she calls it) feeling of this book, it is a wonderful and fascinating read.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Monty

    This book would would not appeal to those who interpret The Bible literally. For those who view The Bible as a reflection of numerous stories passed on since the death of Jesus, I believe that reading it would enrich their beliefs about that time period. The book is divided into three parts. The first part sets the stage by describing the culture where Mary grew up and uses that to speculate on what Mary's everyday life was like. The second part goes into detail about her pregnancy at the age of This book would would not appeal to those who interpret The Bible literally. For those who view The Bible as a reflection of numerous stories passed on since the death of Jesus, I believe that reading it would enrich their beliefs about that time period. The book is divided into three parts. The first part sets the stage by describing the culture where Mary grew up and uses that to speculate on what Mary's everyday life was like. The second part goes into detail about her pregnancy at the age of 13 and discusses the concept of virginity in much detail. The third part focuses on what it must have been like during and after the time of the crucifixion. This section includes how she spent her life after Jesus' death. Each part has much more detail than I am mentioning in this summary. For me, this book was written with much reverence for that time period and for the current state of Christianity as well as Judaism and Islam. There are over ten pages of bibliography.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Andrew [A]

    Jewish kabbalist new age take on Mary... if the statement "i mean, who actually believes in the virgin birth and the resurrection literally, give me a break" offends you, this book will offend you. And as always, combining a narrative with history-for-dummies will frustrate history buffs. As well as the rather strange choice of paralleling Mary to the Palestinian resistance. However, there are many ideas and images in the book that illuminated my search for the true face of the Virgin Mother. Mar Jewish kabbalist new age take on Mary... if the statement "i mean, who actually believes in the virgin birth and the resurrection literally, give me a break" offends you, this book will offend you. And as always, combining a narrative with history-for-dummies will frustrate history buffs. As well as the rather strange choice of paralleling Mary to the Palestinian resistance. However, there are many ideas and images in the book that illuminated my search for the true face of the Virgin Mother. Mary is very relevant, but not for the reasons that this author may think.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Roger DeBlanck

    Hazleton’s study of the Blessed Mother Mary is subtitled “a flesh-and-blood biography of the Virgin Mother.” A more accurate and perhaps more suitable subtitle for her work might have been this: “an historical exploration of the Virgin Mother.” For that is exactly what Hazleton has done by showcasing Mary in her historical context to explain her as an ordinary Jewish peasant girl from Galilee. That is, of course, most likely who Mary was before the Gospels tell us how God approached her and she Hazleton’s study of the Blessed Mother Mary is subtitled “a flesh-and-blood biography of the Virgin Mother.” A more accurate and perhaps more suitable subtitle for her work might have been this: “an historical exploration of the Virgin Mother.” For that is exactly what Hazleton has done by showcasing Mary in her historical context to explain her as an ordinary Jewish peasant girl from Galilee. That is, of course, most likely who Mary was before the Gospels tell us how God approached her and she accepted His plan to bless her with the virgin birth of a son who would redeem humankind. Hazleton’s study to uncover more about Mary reads more like a toilsome textbook of the Biblical era rather than as a compelling biography. Her work is commendable for offering a chronology of events during the period and a density of fascinating details about everyday life during that time. However, her textbook-like approach too often marginalized Mary to the point where she is often merely a byproduct of all the events and details of the era that Hazleton studiously examines. Hazleton’s approach is understandable if we remember that we have only scant documentation and source material to go on in order to put together a portrait of who, indeed, was the world’s most famous mother. Besides Mary’s few and very brief appearances in the Gospels, we have little else of biographical legitimacy to guide our efforts to discover and know Mary, and so Hazleton has given us an interesting picture of the time and place in history where Mary lived and birthed and raised Jesus. The issue with Hazleton’s study is that with so few facts about Mary, her book offers more of an exposition of the Biblical era in which Mary frequented rather than offering an actual biography, where Mary cannot be much more than a hypothesis. Hazleton’s effort to seek out and convey who Mary was might have worked better had she novelized her research into a more engaging narrative rather than trying to find Mary through a biographical approach.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    I would probably give this 3.5 stars. The anthropological aspect of it was so interesting. I loved reading about the atmosphere of Mary's time and place, and thought it really gave a lot of insight as to what it would have been like to live back then. However, I felt that after that the book took this wild feminist turn wherein the author was making these wild conjectures with no facts (which she admits) and then relying on them as truth to build more of the "biography" of Mary, and that part I I would probably give this 3.5 stars. The anthropological aspect of it was so interesting. I loved reading about the atmosphere of Mary's time and place, and thought it really gave a lot of insight as to what it would have been like to live back then. However, I felt that after that the book took this wild feminist turn wherein the author was making these wild conjectures with no facts (which she admits) and then relying on them as truth to build more of the "biography" of Mary, and that part I really didn't like.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Hina Tabassum Khatri

    What was Hazelton even thinking and how did this book even get the go ahead for publishing? Read like fiction or rather fan fiction. Ever conceivable probability is acceptable to Hazelton other than what religion has taught us of the life of Maryam. Be it in Christianity it Islam. Don't think will be reading anything by Hazelton again. What was Hazelton even thinking and how did this book even get the go ahead for publishing? Read like fiction or rather fan fiction. Ever conceivable probability is acceptable to Hazelton other than what religion has taught us of the life of Maryam. Be it in Christianity it Islam. Don't think will be reading anything by Hazelton again.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Siti Kurniaty Rasyad

    I am a huge fan of Lesley Hazleton, so i would probably be pretty biased in my opinion, but should you ask me, i would definitely say that this book is a five star reading and is highly recommended, and you should read it! 😊😍

  9. 5 out of 5

    Farhan

    Boring. I expected a much better researched and fleshed out book from Lesley Hazleton. Instead, I found a book full of what-ifs and speculations. Nothing substantial.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Donni

    Disappointing. I like her other book about Islam.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    This book is a miracle. Does the impossible - presents a fresh view of Mary, the mother of Jesus - a view that sweeps away all the pious legends that have gradually accumulated around her during the last two millennia - removes the veils that the devout have thrown over her, the veils that have obscured her humanity - have turned her into an "near divinity", an object of veneration, of worship. This book is a biography of a very different Mary, of a real flesh-and-blood woman. Hazleton, rather d This book is a miracle. Does the impossible - presents a fresh view of Mary, the mother of Jesus - a view that sweeps away all the pious legends that have gradually accumulated around her during the last two millennia - removes the veils that the devout have thrown over her, the veils that have obscured her humanity - have turned her into an "near divinity", an object of veneration, of worship. This book is a biography of a very different Mary, of a real flesh-and-blood woman. Hazleton, rather doing a "search for the historical" Mary, provides what might be considered a Christian Haggadah, an allegorical, homiletic parable. By creatively re-imaging Mary's personality and life, Hazleton attempts to re-mythologize Mary - to renew her image - to deepen its relevance for contemporary culture - to give us a Mary who is credible, relevant, understandable to modern men and women. And to a marvelous extent, Hazleton succeeds. Her Mary is not only loving and maternal, but also strong, and wise, and competent - a Mary that everyone, even secular feminists, can respect and admire - a woman with whom they can identify even if they cannot worship. Needless to say, this alternative portrayal will deeply offend many, especially traditional Catholics and conservative evangelicals. Her virginity and her monotheism are not absolutely confirmed. Her son is not explicitly discussed. Although she does not offer an explicit Christology, her portrayal of the crucifixion is vivid, dramatic, emotionally heart-rending, unforgettable. However, Hazleton is not doing history, nor theology. Rather this is a brilliant intellectual exercise - an attempt to demythologize Mary, to present a different image of her, one that is more suited to contemporary culture, one that speaks to modern humans. This "re-thinking" is nothing new. Mary has undergone numerous transformation over the centuries, changing from the Galilean Jewish maiden into the Queen of Heaven imperially robed and crowned with a circle of stars, then into the luminous vision revealed to Bernadette at Lourdes. These "make-overs" are far from being disrespectful - are rather a sign of a vibrant faith, a sign of Mary's significance for the faithful, of the need for the faithful to adapt her image to their devotional needs. Hazleton's Mary is just as valid as all the previous constructs - perhaps even more so. Her Mary is vivid, is convincing. Hazleton knows her Bible, knows contemporary Biblical analysis, has a deep knowledge of the history and culture of 1st century Judea, has lived in Israel for many years and knows by long experience the unchanging life style and folkways of the small Galilean agricultural village. She gives us a Mary who is a real woman living a real life in a real place. Book is just marvelous. Course, I may be overly enthusiastic about this book because it has enabled me, for the first time in my life, to feel a real connection to Mary - to regard her as more than a painted statue or as the fantastically perfect ideal of womanhood - sinless, virginal, holy, and somewhat silly. Hazleton has rescued me from this.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Robyn Tocker

    Lesley Hazleton’s "Mary: A Flesh-and-Blood Biography of the Virgin Mother" is the perfect blend of biography, history, and faith. Full review: https://robyntocker.weebly.com/mary.html Lesley Hazleton’s "Mary: A Flesh-and-Blood Biography of the Virgin Mother" is the perfect blend of biography, history, and faith. Full review: https://robyntocker.weebly.com/mary.html

  13. 4 out of 5

    Nathan Dehoff

    While well-written, this book struck me as more historical fiction than biography. But then, unless you're just recapping what others have said, we don't have that much information on Mary. She's a significant part of theology, particularly for the Catholic Church, but the little information on her we find in the gospels is fragmentary and often contradictory. At least she fares better than her husband in this respect. As Hazleton points out, only the Gospel of John even mentions Mary's presence While well-written, this book struck me as more historical fiction than biography. But then, unless you're just recapping what others have said, we don't have that much information on Mary. She's a significant part of theology, particularly for the Catholic Church, but the little information on her we find in the gospels is fragmentary and often contradictory. At least she fares better than her husband in this respect. As Hazleton points out, only the Gospel of John even mentions Mary's presence at her son's crucifixion. The book touches on some of the legends that developed about the woman, including the story in the Protoevangelium of James about her being brought up as a ward of the Temple and the rumor that she was raped by a Roman soldier. Most of it just seems to be supposition on Hazleton's part, though. She proposes that Mary was a village healer, which is how Jesus learned his healing skills. There's also the suggestion that Jesus was younger than the Gospels say when he was crucified. Why? It's rooted in the idea that it wasn't common for Galilean peasants of the time to live into their thirties, but I don't think there's any actual evidence for it. It's not a bad read, but I can't recommend it as a work of history.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I took this book with a BOULDER of salt and think (if I may say so) that others would do well to do the same. As the other reviews attest, this is very far from being a biography in any sense. The fictionalized descriptions of her grandmother, and what she or Maryam were thinking at a certain time, were especially far-fetched and didn't add much to the story.   I can appreciate what Hazleton tries to do here: give the reader a space to imagine the "Flesh and blood" Mary, most fundamentally her pea I took this book with a BOULDER of salt and think (if I may say so) that others would do well to do the same. As the other reviews attest, this is very far from being a biography in any sense. The fictionalized descriptions of her grandmother, and what she or Maryam were thinking at a certain time, were especially far-fetched and didn't add much to the story.   I can appreciate what Hazleton tries to do here: give the reader a space to imagine the "Flesh and blood" Mary, most fundamentally her peasant identity. It is so easy to have ethereal, otherwordly associations with those who are most holy to us, but it is important to remember their roots, their connection to the land. It was very interesting to read about the changing definition of "virginity" over time and in reference to pagan beliefs.   Finally, I owe it to this book for piquing my interest in the historical origins of Christianity. I realized know so little about a faith that is followed by so many, a faith which has parallels to Islam in many ways in as well. So I am moving on to read Reza Aslan's "Zealot"!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lynne Marchetti

    A truthful telling of who Mary, the mother of Jesus, really may have been. What her time were like and where the notion of "virgin" may come from. Lesley Hazleton has a grasp of the Aramic language as well as Herbrew and Arab languages so pulls a lot of her wisdom from translations that may need tweaking. The first 2/3 of the book were slow but the end 1/3 was worth the wait. If your curious enough to delve into who Mary "is" then you'll like the information in this book. I took it out of the libra A truthful telling of who Mary, the mother of Jesus, really may have been. What her time were like and where the notion of "virgin" may come from. Lesley Hazleton has a grasp of the Aramic language as well as Herbrew and Arab languages so pulls a lot of her wisdom from translations that may need tweaking. The first 2/3 of the book were slow but the end 1/3 was worth the wait. If your curious enough to delve into who Mary "is" then you'll like the information in this book. I took it out of the library in Topsfield. It just happened to be on one of the table top displays so caught my eye.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Amie

    I picked this book because I couldn't believe The Stranger had selected a writer on religious/middle east issues for their 2011 Genius Award. I had to see what this was about. I really enjoyed this because it is difficult to picture life in those times, especially for women. Of course, this is based on research of life in those times/anthropology/biblical (and other writings) scholarship. So, "biography" might be a strong word. Some of the hypotheses seem a bit far out, but they really gave me s I picked this book because I couldn't believe The Stranger had selected a writer on religious/middle east issues for their 2011 Genius Award. I had to see what this was about. I really enjoyed this because it is difficult to picture life in those times, especially for women. Of course, this is based on research of life in those times/anthropology/biblical (and other writings) scholarship. So, "biography" might be a strong word. Some of the hypotheses seem a bit far out, but they really gave me something to think about.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Manuel Sanchez

    Challenging biography that radically re-envisions the life of Mary, restoring her as both a real woman and a powerful spiritual leader. Author, an avowed agnostic, takes some disturbing license in this retelling which assumes and excludes all events that are miraculous and seeks out a different perspective or cause for those events. No virgin birth, no visit by angels, no exile in Egypt and no physical resurrection of her son. I enjoyed how it challenged by faith and perspective, as well as apoc Challenging biography that radically re-envisions the life of Mary, restoring her as both a real woman and a powerful spiritual leader. Author, an avowed agnostic, takes some disturbing license in this retelling which assumes and excludes all events that are miraculous and seeks out a different perspective or cause for those events. No virgin birth, no visit by angels, no exile in Egypt and no physical resurrection of her son. I enjoyed how it challenged by faith and perspective, as well as apocryphal references to support her position. Liked the challenge but discounted her conclusions.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Karen Mcintyre

    This is a great book -- it humanizes an all too often dehumanized character of biblical proportion! Written by a Jew -- it gives a really fresh understanding of the what Mary's life might have been like. All good midrash helps us rethink conventions we have accepted and this book was no exception. Her descriptions bring temple to life with the smell of blood offerings and the chaotic noises that accompanied the chorus of everyday life. An excellent read! This is a great book -- it humanizes an all too often dehumanized character of biblical proportion! Written by a Jew -- it gives a really fresh understanding of the what Mary's life might have been like. All good midrash helps us rethink conventions we have accepted and this book was no exception. Her descriptions bring temple to life with the smell of blood offerings and the chaotic noises that accompanied the chorus of everyday life. An excellent read!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Melea

    I guess I am too traditional to accept Lesley Hazleton's many assumptions. She drew from the Gnostic and much of the apochryphal literature to write her book. I don't know what she could have done considering the dearth of information available, but since I reject most of those writings, I couldn't ever really get behind this portrayal of Mary. I did have a lot of thinking to do as I read, and that is never a bad thing. I guess I am too traditional to accept Lesley Hazleton's many assumptions. She drew from the Gnostic and much of the apochryphal literature to write her book. I don't know what she could have done considering the dearth of information available, but since I reject most of those writings, I couldn't ever really get behind this portrayal of Mary. I did have a lot of thinking to do as I read, and that is never a bad thing.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sarah - All The Book Blog Names Are Taken

    I am really struggling to review this one. Especially as the Gnostic discussion grew more frequent in the last ten or so pages. I will have to think a while longer and hopefully give a decent review in the future. I can say that I enjoyed the set-up, the 'what daily life was like' aspects. But the parts relating to Mary herself, someone we can never really know anything about besides what the Bible provides? I am feeling disgruntled but can't yet put it exactly into words. I am really struggling to review this one. Especially as the Gnostic discussion grew more frequent in the last ten or so pages. I will have to think a while longer and hopefully give a decent review in the future. I can say that I enjoyed the set-up, the 'what daily life was like' aspects. But the parts relating to Mary herself, someone we can never really know anything about besides what the Bible provides? I am feeling disgruntled but can't yet put it exactly into words.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    I really wanted to like this book more than I did. There were some really beautifully poetic passages and sentiments, but something about it just seemed false. I read another review that stated the authors agenda was really obvious, and it is, but that said is it entirely wrong? I kind of like the reframing of what we know as Christianity as more female centric, that said it was pretty idealistic in a way that is somewhat hard to swallow.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jeweleye

    I've enjoyed and learned from everything I've read by Lesley Hazleton. Mary is no different. Although there are not a lot of historical sources for a true biography of Mary, Prof. Hazleton creates a believable (to me) backdrop of how her life might have been lived 300-400 years before the church conflated and absorbed other spiritual practices and beliefs. I've enjoyed and learned from everything I've read by Lesley Hazleton. Mary is no different. Although there are not a lot of historical sources for a true biography of Mary, Prof. Hazleton creates a believable (to me) backdrop of how her life might have been lived 300-400 years before the church conflated and absorbed other spiritual practices and beliefs.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    Mary is another example of the wonderful writing that Lesley Hazleton produces. I loved the contextualization of Maryam, the way that it brought her to life. The idea of Mary as a teacher of Jesus seemed at first startling and then obvious. This book empowers the woman who became the mother of Christ and does so beautifully.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tina

    Writing this review years after reading the book, I recall enjoying the read tremendously. Picking it up again to see why, I am caught by the writing again, the blend of fact, supposition, historical accuracy and imagination. Not one bit about religion, it is simply the tale of a simple girl/woman and how it was to live at this time amongst these events. It's going back on my to-read shelf... Writing this review years after reading the book, I recall enjoying the read tremendously. Picking it up again to see why, I am caught by the writing again, the blend of fact, supposition, historical accuracy and imagination. Not one bit about religion, it is simply the tale of a simple girl/woman and how it was to live at this time amongst these events. It's going back on my to-read shelf...

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Widell

    Either you love it or hate it. Virgin Mary is not the easiest subject to write about if your project is to look at the person behind the myth, and at times it shows. I admire the boldness of her approach of portraying Mary as a real flesh-and-blood human being. I like the result, which is a thought-provoking biography, to say the least.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tamam

    This amazing book makes the historical-mythological woman come ALIVE - flesh and blood. Leslie is bold and thorough, with pages of footnotes to back up her research. don't miss this. "Jezebel" by the same author will be out this fall. This amazing book makes the historical-mythological woman come ALIVE - flesh and blood. Leslie is bold and thorough, with pages of footnotes to back up her research. don't miss this. "Jezebel" by the same author will be out this fall.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

    What do you do when your protagonist lived two thousand years ago in a world that everyone thinks they know something about, but pretty much everything they think they know is wrong? Ask Lesley Hazleton. She managed this delicate situation beautifully in this book.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    I didn't finish reading this book. It was just over my head and not what I though it would be. It does, however, paint a very clear picture of what life was like in the time of Mary. I must say it was not at all as I pictured and very informative. I just couldn't stick with it till the end. I didn't finish reading this book. It was just over my head and not what I though it would be. It does, however, paint a very clear picture of what life was like in the time of Mary. I must say it was not at all as I pictured and very informative. I just couldn't stick with it till the end.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Cadence Woodland

    Fictional or at least conceptual biography. I would have been far more interested in a more in depth exploration of the evolution of the myths and perceptions of Mary, which is what I really expected.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ed

    only read half the book.

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