Mary called Magdalene by Margaret George traces the life of Mary Magdalene from her childhood in the remote fishing village of Magdala to her death. Margaret George asks her readers to imagine life with Jesus through a woman’s eyes. This controversial approach seeks the reader to have an open mind while journeying through first century Israel.
Mary called Magdalene was the second book I read from Margaret George. The first novel read being the Memoirs of Cleopatra. I had fallen in love with the strong female perspective written within an accurately detailed historical setting. Once again, Margaret George did not disappoint with Mary called Magdalene. As a historical fiction author, I love strong female leads that push my readers to think about historical events through the unheard voices of that time. I admire Margaret George’s ability to do this well. It is a hard skill to master in that it often times pushes an author to write about things they may not believe.
Mary called Magdalene is a richly detailed novel that could have only been written after an intense level of research. To understand Mary, Margaret first had to understand the life and times of a woman during that period of history. Mary Magdalene is only mention briefly within the bible. The bible states Mary was cured by Jesus of seven demons, was a prostitute, was financially able to help support Jesus’ ministry and followed him even to the crucifixion. Mary was mention in the bible as one of the first women to be approached by the risen Jesus at his tomb. Recently debates have arisen to suggest Jesus and Mary had a more intimate relationship than is mentioned in the bible. Others have suggested Mary had become one of the first leaders of the church and Jesus had trusted her with sacred information more than the other apostles. Scholars have argued she was never a prostitute but was depicted as one because of her rise to authority within the church. With very little information to go on, Margaret George had to turn to outside resources for further information. George not only travelled to the holy lands several times to understand the setting, she explored this amazing woman’s life by reading Mary’s Gospel called the Gospel of Mary, which was discovered in 1896. She also explored the early church writing from the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh centuries that mentioned Mary of Magdalene and researched traditional legends. Through the combination of her sources, she was able to accurately depict the life of this first female disciple.
Author Margaret George
Margaret George’s depiction of life in Israel is very realistic. She brings tidbits of information that would not have been possible unless she had a through knowledge of the culture. The reader is confronted with Hebrew mysticism. The Israelites struggles through the very dangerous social-economical times are very apparent to the reader. Jesus’ ministry as seen through Mary’s perspective brings the reader to question what they believe they know about Jesus and his ministry, especially how he treated women. When I read the book, it not only was an interesting read but also strengthened my own faith. Mary became a leader among the women. In the story she was a mother and wife who lost not only her husband but daughter as well. She had been exiled and accused of prostitution because she chose to follow Jesus. The pains and struggles of any woman who has been abandoned not only by her family but her husband resonate in the book. She is a mother who wants to be reunited with her daughter and husband but is never given the chance to do so. Jesus comforts and ministers to her. After his death and resurrection, she travels with John and Jesus mother to become one of the leaders of the church. She is able to continue Jesus’ ministry to women and children because she understands them. The story is engaging and fast moving with plenty of interesting plot developments. The reader feels for Mary Magdalene. She is a fascinating character that the reader wants to succeed.
As an author, I look to bring the culture of my characters to the forefront of my readers’ minds. I admire Margaret George’s writings because I want my books to illuminate the unheard voices of the historical times I write about.