christ the lord: the road to cana, by anne rice.
for years, anne rice has been known for her famous and bestselling books about vampires. she was one of the last successful fiction writers anyone would have expected to write a multi-volume reverent, fictional treatment of the life of christ. but a come-to-jesus (or, more accurately, a come-back-to-jesus) moment several years ago brought her back to the catholic faith of her childhood. she tells this story in the author’s note at the end of the first book in this series, christ the lord: out of egypt, one of my favorite books of the year when it came out (my min-review of that book is here). that little author’s note is, quite literally, worth the price of the first book, all by itself.
that first book tells the fictionalized (but based on what we know from scripture and other historical documents) story of christ from birth through the scene in the temple when he was 12. this second book jumps forward to the year prior to jesus’ baptism at the hands of john the baptist, temptation in the desert, and – finally – his first major miracle, the water-into-wine at the wedding of cana. the story is told in first person, in the voice of jesus, which allows rice to explore his thoughts. he’s 30-ish, and his family is seriously ticked that he’s not married. in fact, jesus is in love with the most eligible girl in his town, who clearly wants to marry him. and we see his struggle, knowing that he cannot and will not marry her (in fact, it is her eventual wedding in cana, at the end of the book — which provides all kinds of wonderful complexity and struggle).
jesus knows who he is, but is still learning and growing in understanding about how it all works. for instance, we get to follow along as jesus figures out how he speaks in the authoritative voice of god. at first, he knows he is this and does this, but doesn’t quite grasp how it works. really interesting stuff.
i had heard from friends that this volume was good, but not as great as the first book. and that’s fair. but, still, i would say that this book is great: really, really great. likely to be one of my 10 best books of the year. but the first book was one of my 2 best books of the year i read it. so, yeah, not quite as good as that one; but better than almost every other book out there! i really struggled to connect with the book, and understand what was going on, in the first 30 pages or so. but once i connected, i couldn’t stop reading.
if you haven’t read the first book, i would suggest you start there, though it’s not necessary. i sent both of them to my mom for mother’s day (what a great son am i!).