Fine softcover, 608 pages, this copy SIGNED by Strand on the title page. Mary Magdalene’s confessions reveal a sensual world of love and betrayal, magic and mystery, hidden within the Gospels • Reroots Mary Magdalene and Jesus in the lush ecology and complex spiritual culture of Second Temple Period Judea and Galilee under Roman rule • Rewilds the Gospels with the forgotten voices of defiant and oppressed women, the nature-based storytelling of oral communities, and the embodied eroticism of a lovable rabbi with appetites and desires, doubts and shame, and a playful sense of humor • Retells a familiar narrative informed by extensive research in botany and ecology, scriptural analysis, feminist studies, and the mythic traditions of the Mediterranean When Leukas, a Christian convert, ventures into the wilds of Gaul to receive the hidden teachings from Mary Magdalene before she dies, he discovers that hidden within the Gospels he thinks he knows is an epic love story—between an educated Jewish woman overwhelmed by her mysterious spiritual powers and a sensual magician devoted to the wisdom of the earth. The secrets she will reveal are both more shocking and more tragic than anything readers have encountered before. Beginning with Miriam’s childhood as a member of a wealthy Jewish family living outside of Bethany, we see her struggles as a young woman with spiritual curiosity and intellectual aspirations that drive her to combat the violence of Empire and the sexism of her own culture. Propelled by mystic visions, Miriam is finally drawn into the wilds of Galilee, where her destiny collides with a mischievous rabbi who will change her and the world forever. Trapped in a mythic story unfolding in events around them, the lovers strive not to repeat a tragedy older than the pyramids. In The Madonna Secret, Sophie Strand resurrects a richly textured world where complex characters reveal the lived reality of scripture and open familiar sayings to radical new meanings and possibilities.