Customer Reviews for

The Liars' Gospel: A Novel

Average Rating 3.5
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  • Posted August 12, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    The first words I have to share with you are that Naomi Alderman

    The first words I have to share with you are that Naomi Alderman's book "The Liars' Gospel" is brilliant and a work of art. From the first pages you realize you have stepped into a world that is unique and beautiful beyond most books you will ever read. There is a wealth to delve into in this novel...not just the stories on the surface of several of the primary characters from Jesus's life, but a richness of humanity.

    As a non-Jew, it was a revelation to read so much of their history and religious practices. Alderman creates such gorgeous scenes of the most simplistic of moments, such as the sacrificing of a lamb in the Temple. Every stroke of her pen is ignited with beauty in the descriptions she cares to share with us in the common areas of the life and times of the book.

    Her characterizations are earthy while they dig at the deepest emotions of the heart in their elegance. I was moved to tears at certain passages of Miryam's story. What a perfect depiction of the unwavering love of a mother whose son seemingly turns his back on her for the love of the greater love of God. It struck an arrow in my heart for her that she accepted his apparent rejection and showed him unconditional love in her own mind and spirit.

    Jesus is drawn with a loving and true hand. I felt the visceral and human person, while the divine was apparent, as well. What an amazing picture. One I've never experienced before in anything I've read.

    Each of the characters Naomi writes about are so vivid and realized in the rawest sense, you can't help believing they might have felt and thought just the things she imagines and tells us. I was simply captivated.

    There are few authors who can write with the genius Ms Alderman employs. Her ability to cast a scene, draw us in and turn our minds is powerful. She is a wordsmith of the highest order. I felt nearly every sentence was crafted in brilliance, and it made reading this book a complete joy. What a treasure. I could read it again and again!

    While there has been some controversy, I understand, about the stories in this book, I found no reason to question the way the book was measured and told. I thought the descriptions of the peoples, the political times and the thought processes of the characters made perfect sense and were touched with reality. As a Christian, I was not offended by any part of the book; and, in fact, I took heart in the way the main teaching of Jesus was reinforced: "Love your neighbor as yourself."

    Have I used enough superlatives? This is an outstanding book. It's one I strongly recommend to my readers. It's a treasure and can't be missed. A must be on your reading list this year. It will be meaningful and long-remembered.

    One of my Top 5 of the year!!

    5+ stars Deborah/TheBookishDame

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 21, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I found this book extremely intriguing.   The book is set in th

    I found this book extremely intriguing.  

    The book is set in the first century and centered around the life of a Jewish prophet, Yehoshuah (Jesus to us). Although it is ostensibly a retelling of the story of Jesus, I found Alderman's detailing of the political climate in Jerusalem during the rise and fall of Jesus much more interesting. The story is told from four viewpoints. That of Marym,Yehoshuah's mother, His friend and follower Ieudah of Queriot, the Roman High Priest of Jerusalem, Caiaphas, and the rebel Bar-Avo. As you read, it is easy to see that Marym is Mary, Ieudah is Judas Iscariot, and Bar-Avo is Barrabas. 

    I thought that Alderman's decision to tell this tale from 4 vary different viewpoints was a brilliant idea. Each character had a different relationship with Jesus and none of them alone could have told the tale completely by themselves. The switching of voice throughout the book allows the author to cover, not only the different times periods of Jesus' life, but also the different facets of his life. Of the four tellings (or gospels, per the title) I feel the best one was the telling by Judas. It is here that we first get to see what political forces are at work in Israel between the occupying Romans and the Jews. This political background was the most interesting part of the book to my thinking. Since I am not very well versed in the history of Israel, the Jewish faith, or the Roman empire during the time of Tiberius, I found this part of the book illuminating. The idea that the political forces at work during this time period could play such a major role in allowing Jesus to gather a following, and therefore, to become both who he was and who he wasn't, was what I liked best about the book. 

    One reason that I see this book as more than just the retelling of Jesus story, is that the second two "gospels" those of Caiaphas and Barrabas do not seem to have much to do with Jesus at all. Although Caiaphas was the High Priest of Jerusalem during this time, he never really came in contact with Jesus in a large way. His focus was more in the arena of the political strife between the occupiers and the native populations, and his efforts to reconcile the two. In the case of Barrabas, he went on to continue to lead the rebellion of the Jews against the Romans long after Jesus was dead. In fact, his story began with the death of Jesus and continued on with the focus on the political. For me this was the second best section of the book. 

    All in all, I found Alderman to present a thought provoking work that captivated me. Both her excellent prose and her development of the characters in the books were definite pluses. Not only was she adept at fleshing out the four characters telling the stories, but her attention to the supporting cast of characters was also well done. In addition, her ability to tell the story of Jesus from and alternate perspective and make it both believable, and more importantly, not disrespectful or preachy, was appreciated. As much as I enjoyed the book, at no time did the writing make me question my faith, or give me the idea that Ms. Alderman was trying to change my beliefs. Only that she was looking at the same story with different eyes. 

    As I said, this book is not for everyone, but if you are looking for something that is a little different, looks at something from a totally different direction, and has the ability to bring to light questions and new information, than this is the book for you. I am giving it 4 stars, and in fact, enjoyed it much more than I thought I might. 

    This book was provided to me by Little, Brown and Company through Netgalley in exchange for my review. I would like to thank them for the chance to read a book that I would probably not ever looked at on my own. I thoroughly enjoyed it

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 10, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    The Liars' Gospel takes place around the life and death of Yehos

    The Liars' Gospel takes place around the life and death of Yehoshuah (Jesus), told from the perspectives of his mother Miryam (Mary), his friend and eventual betrayer Iehuda (Judas), the High Priest Caiaphas, and the rebel Bar-Avo (Barabbas).

    I have to admit, I was a wee bit uncomfortable about jumping into a book I knew would be a fictionalized version of biblical events, and with such a provocative title at that (who's being called a liar?!). But, since I'm not a biblical literalist, my curiosity easily won out.

    First off, the language. Now, this isn't something I usually comment on, or even care much about, but it occurred often enough that I feel the need to mention it. The f-word is used fairly often, as well as some other offensive terms. Part of me understands why these words were used, but more often than not I found it distracting. Maybe because the novel is written in a biblical setting? I'm not sure. But if you greatly dislike profanity, just a heads up.

    That aside, I found Alderman's vivid storytelling incredible, giving readers deeper insight into the historical context of the Gospels. I personally discovered how woefully ignorant of this time period I am. At the end of the book, Alderman provides notes on her sources. I also stopped a number of times to look up "Judea as Roman province" or "prefect Pilate ancient Israel" to get my bearings. When we say in the Apostles' Creed that Jesus "suffered under Pontius Pilate," from now on I'll be reminded of the countless others who were also subjected to Pilate's mercilessness.

    The fictional details of the character's personal lives also add to their depth and relatability. We are shown a very human side of Mary, with what I think are completely natural, motherly responses to Jesus' actions. We also see Judas as more than simply "the betrayer." My favorite scenes were the ones between Judas and Jesus: endless questioning, discussing, freedom to wonder and challenge everything. "This questioning is the wisdom I taught you... Use it always with me."

    Through The Liars' Gospel, details of life and faith during early Roman rule of Judea become a rich and vibrant story. Alderman gives a unique Jewish perspective to this familiar Christian account, creating a story that prompts much thoughtful consideration. (Note: Based on the descriptions of B&N's star ratings, I would give this book closer to 3 1/2 stars)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 31, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I read The Liars' Gospel by Naomi Alderman for a discussion on J

    I read The Liars' Gospel by Naomi Alderman for a discussion on Jen @ Devourer of Books's blog.

    This book, told from 4 different points of view of those who were in his life, tells the story of a man named Yehoshuah.  Yehoshuah preached the word of G-d, healed the sick, and ended up gaining a large following.

    Was Yehoshuah the Messiah?  Or was his story inflated by those who knew him?

    Naomi Alderman fictionalized the story of Yehoshuah, better known as Jesus, as told by his mother, a former confidant, and two others who knew him.

    The Liars' Gospel by Naomi Alderman gave a fictionalized version of the story of Yehoshuah (Jesus), who is portrayed more as a man who has inflated stories told about him than as the potential Messiah.

    Being raised Jewish, the story of Jesus is not something I am very familiar with.  I know the "outline" of the story but not many of the details.

    I really enjoyed this novel, a lot more than I expected!  Naomi Alderman made sure not to alienate her readers by forcing beliefs onto them, but instead told a story that lets the reader decide what to believe.

    Who should read this book?

    Readers who have an open mind about a known religious story told in a different way.  And fellow Jews, don't be scared off by this story, like I was at first.  It was a great read!

    What do you think of a fictionalized telling of a known religious story?

    Thanks for reading,

    Rebecca @ Love at First Book

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2013

    An inventive account

    Interesting and inventive, yet you're not drawn in, the characters don't seem like real people, so you aren't invested in them as human beings. Yehoshua is only a collection of characteristics, not a fully fleshed-out person, and you don't get a sense of why his followers were drwn to him. In fact, the most interesting character is Bar-Avo.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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