Time to cleanse the palate.
I read Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt by Anne Rice some time ago and enjoyed it. What I sensed in that novel was an author who, although knowledgeable of the source material, was still working through its implications and —perhaps intentionally—coming to know Christ more deeply.
Ms. Rice has since released Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana. I can affirm what others have said so far and may even step out further to say that this is an exceptional book. The author takes us through the last months before Christ's ministry begins and shows us a full-grown and fully human Yeshua bar Joseph, as his attachment to the young woman across the road attests.
The book is pregnant with anticipation. Yeshua awaits the call to ministry from His Father. His kinsmen await his betrothal and the fulfillment of the prophecies to Mary and Elizabeth. Israel awaits release from the yoke of Rome. The imagery is lush, and as at least one other blogger has mentioned, sensual. Yet it's sensual in a pure manner. Even those moments of Yeshua's temptation reveal something pure about human desire and love. In addition to giving us a story about the Lord as a young man, this book reveals the complexity of human and familial relationships in first century Judea.
There's a theological depth as well in The Road to Cana that I didn't notice in Out of Egypt. In several scenes, Rice sets up visual allusions to themes in Catholic moral teaching as opposed to overt references to this or that doctrine. Rice seems to know when to let the images speak for themselves rather than to attempt a paraphrase.
I found myself moved repeatedly while reading The Road to Cana. Rice has managed to take stories with which all Christians are (or should be) intimately familiar and made them all the more human.
Excellent work, Ms. Rice. Thank you for this book.