by Elizabeth CunninghamThis is going to be a brief review because it's been several months since I read the book, but I saw this pop up on a friend's to-read list and realized I'd never reviewed it.
Have you ever read one of those "from the female perspective" retellings that purports to be the story of the female character, independent of her more famous male counterpart, but the story still fizzles out after the guy dies? And then you get the last 40 years of the woman's life condensed into 3 pages? Yeah, it annoys the crap out of me too. If it's her story, not his, then write her story. After reading a few of these, I was wary of Bright Dark Madonna, which tells the story of Maeve/Magdalene after Jesus dies.
But Elizabeth Cunningham does it right. Maeve really does have a story that goes on without him. We see her clash with the disciples, and raise her daughter Sara, and come face-to-face with middle age, and have a couple of new lovers who add something to her life without diminishing what has gone before. And it's moving, and it's funny. Highlights include her "Jesus liked to party" speech, and Sara's song, in which she declares her desire to make her own way regardless of what her famous parents did. I was also intrigued by the further development of the Virgin Mary; she's very pissed off now and I think I know what her ultimate agenda is.
At the end, Maeve prepares to head back toward Britain and see her older daughter again—implied to be Boudicca—and I'm happy to see Cunningham has even more planned for her feisty Magdalene. I think the change in the series title is significant. It was "The Magdalene Trilogy"...and now it's "The Maeve Chronicles," which suggests both that it's going to exceed three volumes and that Maeve's Celtic identity is going to begin to take precedence again.
I didn't love it quite as much as book two, but I enjoyed it, and I want to give it a medal for not falling into that "heroine becomes a non-entity after the hero dies" trap.
EDITED TO ADD:This book is also a great example of how an author can use anachronistic words and phrases intentionally, and do it well. It's jarring when an anachronism is used by accident by a writer who doesn't know any better. This is different. Cunningham uses modern colloquial language to humanize the characters and to convey the idea that they wouldn't really have spoken in highfalutin language all the time—they'd have used their own vernacular, and our vernacular is one way to get that across. There's one disciple who does speak highfalutin-ly all the time, and it's a running joke.
|Title||Bright Dark Madonna (Maeve Chronicles, #3)|
|eBook format||Hardcover, (torrent)|
|Publisher||Monkfish Book Publishing|
|File size||6.4 Mb|
|Book rating||4.29 (234 votes)