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The Book of Rachael

The Book of Rachael

by Leslie Cannold

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What if the man you loved betrayed your brother?

When Rachael falls in love with her brother's dearest friend, the rebel Judah of Iscariot, it seems that at least one of the women of Nazareth may find happiness. Then a message comes from her brother in Jerusalem. And the events begin to unfold that will change not just Rachael's life, but the


What if the man you loved betrayed your brother?

When Rachael falls in love with her brother's dearest friend, the rebel Judah of Iscariot, it seems that at least one of the women of Nazareth may find happiness. Then a message comes from her brother in Jerusalem. And the events begin to unfold that will change not just Rachael's life, but the world—forever.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
If Jesus had a sister, what might have her story been? Australian Cannold (The Abortion Myth) turns her attention to an obscure corner of history: the role of women in patriarchal Roman society and Jewish culture during the early years of Christianity. Foreshadowing Jesus's anti-establishment views, Cannold imagines that he has a sister, Rachael, a tomboy who tries to defy social restrictions on women. Readers accompany her through her successes and failures navigating the patriarchal world that seeks to define her as a wife and mother. Cannold develops Rachael as a well-rounded, independent, and morally complex character who is not solely defined by her relationships with men. Even though the second half of the story revolves around her brother Jesus (as Joshua) and her husband Judah (as Judas), Rachael remains the focal point of the familiar story as it plays out. Rachael's tragedy is not merely the fact that her brother was martyred and that her husband the Messiah's traitor, but also that she was not allowed to be what she wanted to be. Cannold offers a thought-provoking, heartfelt, and tragic but redemptive tale about the difficulties of discovering and defining one's identity in a world that seeks unendingly to take that decision away. (Dec.)
From the Publisher

'There are dangers in attempting to fictionalise such a well-loved story as the life of Christ. First, the resulting account might offend. It might collapse into cliché. Or it might be filled with contemporary sensibilities, creating a world too familiar to our own. Though The Book of Rachael skirts each of these minefields, it is testament to the literary skills of Leslie Cannold that this debut novel avoids them.'
Adair Jones, The Courier Mail

'The church has spent millenia writing women out of history. In the wonderful Book of Rachael, Leslie Cannold returns them to their rightful place at the centre of one of our most powerful stories.'
Sophie Cunningham

'Passionate, eloquent and compelling, a terrific idea beautifully realised—I couldn’t put it down.'
Liz Byrski

'The Book of Rachael should be celebrated for its intelligence, eloquence and its fascinating version of well-known events. Cannold sustains her reader’s interest from the first page to the last, offering us a credible explanation for one of the most incredible stories in our culture. Indeed, this is all the more impressive when we learn that The Book of Rachael is Cannold’s debut novel, a remarkably confident and assured beginning to what I hope will be a long career in literature.'
Canberra Times

'Only a writer as insightful as Cannold could imagine Rachel's story so intelligently. Read it as a historical page-turner, as a moving romantic tragedy or as a parable about equality—but read it.'
Toni Jordan

'Engaging and fast-paced prose...a compelling read.'
Bookseller + Publisher

'Leslie Cannold is an impressive and formidable writer. Her latest offering, The Book of Rachael, her first novel, takes what we think we know and turns it on its head...The Book of Rachael is not just a feminist rewriting of the past, though. Essentially, it is a love story about courageous people. It is fastpaced and the narrative is superb.'
Readings Monthly

'Cannold deftly creates a rich fictional world.'
Courier Mail

'Splendid in its conception, and splendid it it execution...Not since The Handmaid's Tale has the perilous position of women been so cogently evoked.'
ANZLitLovers blog

'A beautifully narrated story about equality, independence and love.'
Sunday Herald Sun

'An unusual yet very readable mixture of romantic tragedy, historical adventure and biblical revisionism…by its very nature, this story is also rich with questions about the nature of God, about what it is too be a good (and godly) man and woman, about the nature of power and subversion. Cannold successfully pulls the human stories from the mire of religion and self-interest that opened up in the days immediately following the crucifixion. Food for thought, indeed, and quite a page-turner.'
Weekend Press

'The Book of Rachael is an energetic and passionate revision of the story of Jesus…There is a great deal to admire and appreciate about this novel.'

'Enthralling and thought-provoking…I was completely drawn in to [the women of Nazareth’s] world and found it almost impossible to put down…[Leslie Cannold] succeeds in not only writing women back into history but also in examining one our most enduring religious stories.'
Otago Daily Times

'Cannold’s writing is even and unaffected, making quiet, sensual use of detail…A particular triumph is the relations between women, which are cruel and vindictive as much as kind and mentoring. The women are at once oppressed and oppressing; Mary becomes a breathtakingly bitter, damaged and narrow mother in one of Cannold’s most successful inversions of tradition…You could find yourself newly affected by an old, old story.'

'Truly original; a unique and appealing take on one of the oldest stories in the book.'

'Cannold is deft at evoking the dry, humble landscape of her character’s lives, bringing a fresh but spare beauty to her tale...engaging and easy-to-read.'
Perilous Adventures.net

'This retelling of the Jesus story will resonate with women of faith who wish to forge their own path and stay true to their values. …This is a good pick for readers who enjoyed Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent or Alice Hoffman’s The Dovekeepers.'
Library Journal

Product Details

Text Publishing Company
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.90(d)

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Meet the Author

Dr Leslie Cannold is an author, commentator, and activist. She was born in Portchester, New York and has a BA from Wesleyan University in the USA, a Masters Degree in Medical Ethics from Monash University and a PhD from the University of Melbourne, Australia.

Her books include the award-winning The Abortion Myth and What, No Baby?, which made the Australian Financial Review’s top 101 books list. Her first novel, The Book of Rachael, was published in 2011.

In 2011 Leslie Cannold was honoured as Australian Humanist of the Year.

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