Anne Rice: Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana

by Rachel Baker on March 17, 2008

I am an Anne Rice fan that fell by the wayside. I have loved the sensuality of her writing, before I knew what sensuality meant. It’s not necessarily the words, but the feelings she invokes with her use of language and descriptions. At one point in my life, I pre-ordered Anne Rice books, as I had to read them all as soon as they came out – I had to know what happened next. I could read her books over and over and pick out things I hadn’t caught the first time around. Eventually, the stories became a bit predictable and Anne Rice got the special place on the bookshelf for great authors that I’ll pick up again sometime in the future. I began reading some of her work again when she came out with “The Violin.” I liked the morbid sensuality of it. Some may find this an odd statement, but I thought it was an amazing love story. I was hooked again.

When she came out with the “Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt” I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. I was extremely interested in seeing how she tackled this particular topic. The “Christ the Lord” series is fascinating – maybe even could be described as enlightening. Rice’s newest series is a fictitious look at the life Jesus might have led during the time frame omitted from the Bible.

There is not as much detail in the setting descriptions in either “Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt” or “…The Road to Cana.” However, I don’t think there is supposed to be. The detail is in the subtle cultural and religious references, and in Jesus’ reflections of his inner conflict, relationships with his family, and the community in which he lived. The amount of research required for the type of detail Ms. Rice incorporated into these books is phenomenal.

This Anne Rice series gives Jesus a characteristic that encourages people to relate to him in a more realistic sense than as the Son of God. Rice’s depiction of Jesus allows us to see Jesus as ‘just’ a man. She does this masterfully by writing from a first person point of view allowing her readers to sharing his thoughts, his conversations, and his humanity. “The Road to Cana” gives us possible insight into how difficult Jesus’ life must have been due to the conflicts with temptations of the flesh versus the destiny of the Son of God.

“The Road to Cana” begins shortly before Jesus’ baptism in the River Jordan by John the Baptist and concludes with the miracle at Cana, in which Jesus casts out Mary’s demons. For some reason, no one “way back when” thought it necessary to chronicle his whole life. Maybe it was too boring, and there was nothing significant. In my mind, his humanity as a man, and not the Son of God, is extremely significant.

There are so many beautifully human moments in both of Rice’s “Christ the Lord” books. One example is when Jesus is in the groves with Avigail, right after she’d been abducted. Her father had denounced her as his daughter. Avigail is scared and afraid and Jesus is trying desperately to comfort her and help her find peace. We have already realized by this point that Jesus does love Avigail, and yet knows he will never marry.

He narrates:

‘I wanted to kiss her. I wanted just to hold her close to me again in purest love and kiss her forehead. But I didn’t do it.
“You’re really a child of angels,” she said sadly.
“No, my beloved. I am a man. Believe me, I am.”’ (p.121)

This section, without a doubt, broke my heart. It was at this point in my reading, that my heart truly began to ache for this man.

Interestingly, Ms. Rice held to the belief that the angel came to Mary, the wise men came to celebrate his birth, and Jesus was the Son of God. This surprised me a bit. To be honest, I really expected that she would have taken a slightly different approach. I thought it would be a “normal” birth. All through this series she references the Christian story of Jesus’ birth. I think Rice did a wonderful job of pulling me back, not letting me forget that this is a story about the Son of God.

Anne Rice has branched out with the “Christ the Lord” books. As far as fans go, you either love her writing or you hate it. However, I foresee a whole new genre of reader will pick up these books and truly enjoy them. She may have some fans from her previous works that will not like this venture; but if they are loyal fans, they’ll read the “Christ the Lord” books. They may not like the story, but they will fully appreciate her writing. This particular series will not cause a decrease in Anne Rice fans at all.

While I could see Ms. Rice could get much criticism for daring to write a story about something that could be construed as blasphemous, I recommend this story to religious believers and non-believers. The writing is beautiful, the humanity presented is very believable, and the story is a wonderful possibility of what could have been.

Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Knopf Canada (March 4, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 067697807X
ISBN-13: 978-0676978070

Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt A Novel
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Knopf (November 1, 2005)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0375412018
ISBN-13: 978-0375412011

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