Names of the Women

Written by Jeet Thayil
Review by Clare Lehovsky

This novel tells the story of Jesus Christ through the women who followed him and those who were against the man. One of the main protagonists is Mary Magdalene, who has a different story to what we might think today. Other women in this story who surprise us with their past include Mary, mother of Jesus, the sisters of Jesus, and there’s even a story from Herodias, the wife of Herod Antipas. As well as the major players in this biblical story, there are other women, too, whose views are heard when they watch Jesus’s story from different perspectives – such as serving women from several households who drop everything to follow him even though he is walking his final steps.

The author writes with a sense of urgency and sheds light on what life might have been like in the days of Jesus Christ, his followers, and those who wished to see their end. The vivid descriptions are highly effective and conjure up all sorts of emotions in the reader. Jeet Thayil has followed each character in this famous tale with precision, making sure that we as readers are fully absorbed in the story and that the characters are with us long after we have finished reading the book.