Provocative and irreverent, author Gail Sidonie Sobat breaks historical and conventional boundaries in this imaginative fictionalization of the life of Mary. From staid Joseph of Nazareth to the hip, modern Three Wiseguys, Sobat employs humour and a daring blend of contemporary and historical voice to bring an ancient tale into the realm of the wholly original. Through journal entries, Mary gives us her story as a young Jewish girl whose flair for drama settles into wisdom in the face of a solidly patriarchal society. Her personal growth is beautifully portrayed as her voice transforms from that of giddy girl to a woman of great inner strength who has learned to balance a keen sense of social justice for women with an intensely personal quest for the spiritual in life. In the unorthodox portrayal of the world of women during the time of Jesus of Galilee, Sobat sidesteps traditional stereotypes to breathe life into a character who has too often been reduced to a symbol.
To begin, Mary is not your average virgin mother. She is a wise-cracking, smart-mouthed teenager writing about her own misfortunes.
Bold and unorthodox, she transgresses. In a desperate bid to save her life and that of her illegitimate child, Mary weaves an elaborate tale. This lie then shapes the rest of her days and those of Jesus. In short, her life becomes a grand adventure. She must rely upon guile, disguise and her talents for healing and midwifery, in order to raise and care for her extended family of castoffs and the sick who seek her services. More than once she saves her famous son, and her own life is an example of courage and agency under a mean-spirited, oppressive tyranny.
Ostensibly set in the time and place of Jesus' lie and ministry, the novel is neither religious nor historical, but achronically modern. Much of our current era and a modern ethos inform the life and character of Mary, who evolves to become a significant figure with a penchant for writing and directing her own life's narrative.