Picks and Pans Review: A Love Divine
After the critical blistering she took for Scarlett, her pale—albeit best-selling—sequel to Gone with the Wind, Ripley has turned to the Bible for inspiration. Her new novel revolves around Joseph of Arimathea, the wealthy Jew who, according to the Gospels, took the body of Jesus to his family tomb after the crucifixion. From that brief mention—and later legends that Joseph was a sea trader who brought Christianity to Britain—Ripley has spun an epic, but uneven, story of love and faith.
Her research yields vivid details, right down to the leather sails on Joseph's ships. And the cameo appearances of Salome, Pontius Pilate and Mary Magdalene can't help but make the story intriguing. Yet, Ripley seems overwhelmed by the project. Joseph and Jesus don't even cross paths until page 524, and while her wrenching account of how Joseph lowered Jesus's body from the cross is truly powerful, too much of her text is rambling and repetitive. Somewhere in the editing process, Ripley could have used a bit of divine intervention. (Warner, $25)