Thursday, October 8, 2009

review: girl mary by petru popescu

Girl Mary is the story before the biblical story of the Virgin Mary. Love, loss, and political strife are amongst the things Petru Popescu imagines for Mary’s life leading up to the biblical story of the virgin birth.

Even as a child, there seemed to be something special about Mary. Now she’s seventeen and living in exile with her family and the other members of their tribe. It was expected they would perish in the desert, but they found a well. This gets attributed to Mary’s powers and she gains a reputation, which attracts the attention of Caesar who sends Pontius Pilate (using a fake identity) to find out more.

In addition to the “magical Mary” story, there’s the issue of marriage and procreation. Before her tribe was cast out into the desert, Mary wanted to marry Joseph. Her parents initially rejected his proposal because he was a bondsman (basically an indentured servant). Being exiled then separates Mary from Joseph. Although many men pass through the desert and stop for water at the well the tribe has found, Mary isn’t interested. She asks God to make it possible for her to marry Joseph, but another obstacle presents itself. He is set to marry two other women in order to bring peace to Nazareth. Mary doesn’t want to be one of three; she wants to be the only wife.

I have mixed feelings about Girl Mary. Overall, the story is interesting; I enjoyed the new take on a familiar story. I loved the fact that Mary was a strong female at a time when women were meant to be subservient; she even questioned God on why women were treated thus. However, the plot dragged and jumped around. I also found all the various names for God confusing. There were times when I wasn’t sure if Mary was referring to God or some man in the community. This isn’t one to read fast; it’s easy to get lost regarding how the characters are related, which ones are Roman, and the timeline of everything.
ARC Review

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