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Girl Mary: A Novel [Paperback]

Petru Popescu
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Sept. 8 2009
A hauntingly beautiful novel, bringing to life one of history’s most mysterious characters, Mary of Nazareth, as a beautiful, complicated, utterly believable girl in love.

• In a bestselling tradition: Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent, Francois Mauriac’s A Kiss for the Leper, and Orson Scott Card’s Sarah all present biblical themes through the sensibilities of today. Girl Mary will similarly captivate readers of all faiths and backgrounds.

• A great character: For centuries, Mary has been the Virgin—but isn’t she also the ultimate female, whose life and passion have never been told? Girl Mary introduces us to the human girl who beguiled even God with her simplicity. So what exactly is Girl Mary? Answers the author: it’s a love story of biblical proportions.

• Great storytelling: Petru Popescu recounts this epic through the eyes of famous characters. Pontius Pilate, already Rome’s agent in Judea at the time, meets Mary and falls under her spell. Years before the massacre of the innocents, King Herod senses that Mary signals the end of his reign. Other heroes of the scriptures appear in Girl Mary at their very debut in history. Described with surreal accuracy, Judea and Rome become the birthplace of Christianity.

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"[Popescu] brings this turbulent age to vibrant life with sympathetic characters, both minor and major." -- Kirkus

"Girl Mary brings the people and settings of Biblical antiquity to life with compassion, vivid storytelling, and an unerring eye for the Rightness of the world's greatest story. It will speak to anyone who cherishes the essential humanity of our foundational spiritual traditions." -- Deepak Chopra

"In this novel Petru Popescu's literary imagination will stimulate the reader's interest in religious and historical events." -- Elie Wiesel, author of Night

"With deep research and masterful storytelling, Petru Popescu brings the worlds of Augustan Rome and Judea to triumphant life. Mary is an exquisitely nuanced creation: scrappy, inquisitive, lovable...An unforgettable story." -- Blake Bailey, author of Cheever: A Life

"A powerful book, in which history, legend, and the contemporary world merge in the best tradition of Mikhail Bulgakov." -- Radu Ioanid, author of The Ransom of the Jews

"Petru Popescu has written a remarkable and compelling novel about one of the most enigmatic and revered figures in history.... Popescu has given us a Mary with an earthy and sensual presence.... A marvelous and inspired read." -- Dr. Jeffrey S. Siker, Chair of Theological Studies, Loyola Marymount University

"How thrilling to meet this enigmatic religious icon face to face, to experience her power, simplicity, honesty, devotion, and courage, her moments of fear.... This Mary is feisty, strong willed, passionate and very much in love. How bold!" -- Barbara Dana, author of Young Joan and A Voice of Her Own: Becoming Emily Dickinson

"Petru Popescu provides a moving, vivid and psychologically astute look at the events leading up to the birth of Jesus.... This book is a triumph." -- Dennis Palumbo, author of Writing From the Inside Out

"A deeply moving, lyrical novel...Popescu's deep scholarship adds authenticity to his description of life in first century Palestine, and his vivid portrayals of biblical figures such as Pontius Pilate, Herod and Joseph echo with the ring of historical truth." -- Kamran Pasha, author of Mother of the Believers

"[Popescu] is a storyteller of the highest order. Girl Mary speaks of faith and love with insight, affection and humor." -- Caldecott Chubb, producer, Eve's Bayou

About the Author

Petru Popescu was Romania’s leading young author when he immigrated to the United States in 1974. He has distinguished himself as the New York Times bestselling author of the novels Amazon Beaming and Almost Adam and the critically acclaimed memoirs The Return and The Oasis. Petru Popescu lives in Beverly Hills, California, with his wife Iris and children Chloe and Adam.

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Customer Reviews

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5.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Teens Read Too Sept. 23 2011
GIRL MARY is the re-imagining of the story of Mary and Joseph before the birth of Jesus. It is told through first the eyes of Pontius Pilate and then those of Mary.

Pontius Pilate is ordered by the Emperor of Rome to be a spy in Judah. He is to find a way for Agustus to become a deity. Pilate is fascinated by the Jewish people. He hears their legends, and when he finds that the tribe that is supposed to have the messiah has been banished by King Herod, he finds them and helps them to come back to Nazarath.

Mary is very spiritual. She sees and talks to God. She is also assertive, which is very unusual for a girl in those days. This is a love story between Mary and Joseph, with a little flirtation between Mary and Pilate.

I liked the characterization of Mary speaking with God. She has a very human-like relationship with him. She bargains with him to get her way, but is respectful of the fact that He is God.

But be warned that this isn't the traditional Mary and Joseph story. It is very different. I liked how the author saw Mary and how he saw Joseph. I also learned a lot about the lives of women during those times. In my head I can realize that it was very hard to be a woman in those days, but how hard I don't think I could ever know unless I lived it. This story focused a lot on the life of Jewish and some on the life of Roman women. It will open your eyes about how wretched their lives were.

The details about ordinary life throughout GIRL MARY were extraordinary. I could envision how hard people worked and what they felt. I was truly amazed, and I feel you would be too, if you give this book a try.

Reviewed by: Marta Morrison
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Girl Mary March 19 2010
By Stephanie Gates - Published on Amazon.com
This was an okay book. While it was clear that is was well researched and grounded in the correct time period, that is about all that is good with this novel. There were too many inconsistencies taken with the narrative that Popescu was trying to fill in and still retain a serious novel. Mary was God's chosen for a reason, which Popsecu never quite puts her finger on, despite giving Mary visions and powers.

One of the large issues I have with this book is that according to Jewish and Christian tradition, God had stopped speaking to the Jewish people up until right before the birth of Christ. Yet Mary speaks to Him and receives answers. The most preposterous vision comes when Mary is alone on the hill where Joseph lost his father and his ability to father children and Mary walks with God in the Garden of Eden as Eve to Joseph's Adam. And that led to another preposterous happening - Mary controlling the lightning and killing those who killed her best friend.

There are ways to take liberties with the text and not come off as stupid (Lamb by Christopher Moore springs to mind) and this book is not one of them. Which is sad, since I love Popescu's other work, Almost Adam, so much. I had high hopes for this book, and instead it was all sort of meh.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Girl Mary Nov. 15 2009
By PricelessReads - Published on Amazon.com
The book was easy to read. It jumps right in to the story of Mary at the well, and later gives you the back story. Told from two perspectives, Pontius Pilate and Mary Amneh, the story gives a new outlook on what Mary's life may have been like prior to the birth of Jesus as well as the politics of Roman Times. As a woman the story resonated with me, and although this was definitely not Christian fiction I found that it did pose some theological questions. Throughout the story, I found myself asking: is she the chosen one? will there be immaculate conception? will the book tell about the birth and beyond? The only answer I can give without spoiling the book is that the story ends before any "Jesus Story" begins. After finishing the novel, I immediately wanted to open the book of Luke and re-read the biblical version. I would recommend this book to any woman who likes biblical fiction, or wants to get a glimpse into what life was like for women during this time period.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tom Harney Jan. 24 2011
By T. Harney - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It was very well written and showed me the way of life in Jewish communities prior to the time of Christ.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book June 28 2010
By M. Klein - Published on Amazon.com
This is an excellent book that gave me a glimpse into what could have been the real life of Mary. The characters and events described in the novel are vividly painted and Popescu's arduous research into the period paid off handsomely. In revealing some of the day-to-day activities, customs and events, Petru Popescu truly transports you back in time to a period where the values were so much different than today. This is a Jewish and Roman story at the dawn of the Christian Era. Beautifully written, it is a very pleasant and informative novel for anyone that has an interest in the subject. Highly recommended!
1.0 out of 5 stars Mediocrity, Not as Golden as It's Cracked up to Be June 17 2013
By Partial to Truth - Published on Amazon.com
If you are in a dentist's waiting room and this book is on the table, by all means pick it up. More amusing than Car and Driver. The "local color"obtained through what is called these days "careful research" (cuisine, flora, fauna and sartorial details of the time and place) is enough to make you think: "Why, that is SO real, it must be so."
Otherwise the book is a PCPF product: politically correct pulp fiction, mediocrity cashing in on feminism and the vogue of titillating Gospel deconstruction. False characters, poor writing. Religious soft porn has the advantage that the writer does not have to work hard on sex scenes: the very idea of Mary in love and in carnal temptation is by itself stimulating enough through its taboo resonance.
In his youth PP did better; that's my excuse for reading it. PP should consider trying his hand at Islam next: it's hot, possibly hotter, and it sells.
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