The Road to Cana is the second volume in Anne Rice’s “Christ the Lord” series. Most people remember Anne Rice as the author of dark vampire books, some of which were turned into movies. This book and its predecessor in the series, Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, are totally on the side of light. Both are fictional depictions of the life of Jesus Christ. Rice bases these books on the Gospels, non-canonical books like the Gospel of St. Thomas, and history. The Road to Cana is based more on the Gospels and history, plus her imagination of what the life of Jesus might have been like. She covers the period from the time before Jesus’ baptism and temptation in the desert to the wedding of Cana, where he turned water into wine. The Gospels are silent on the period between Jesus’ childhood days to when he was in his thirties, and though there are a lot of legends about that time of Jesus’ life, Rice has decided not to
explore those legends.
The Road to Cana begins with what some might consider a controversial scene: Jesus is in a wood praying when he hears a commotion from a crowd. The crowd is accusing two boys of being homosexuals, and the rabbi and others present are calling for a trial. Before a trial can be conducted, some pick up stones and stone the two boys to death. It is not clear if the boys are guilty or not of this sin, but a grievous sin has been committed by those who stoned them without a trial, acting on rumors and such. There can be a moral found here: do not jump to conclusions, because an innocent person could be harmed or even killed.
As in the first book, Rice’s Jesus speaks to the reader as though telling the story of his life. In The Road to Cana, Jesus knows he is the Son of God. His neighbors and some in his family wonder why he, a man of 30, has not married yet; some may even wonder if he is gay, as the stoning story would infer. He tells his family that he will not marry. Most accept this, but some do not. Some think he is in love with a woman named Avigail whom he saves from her mentally ill father then arranges for her marriage.
St. Joseph is still alive in this second book. It is not known when St. Joseph died, but tradition holds that he died before Jesus started his public ministry and that his mother, Mary, was a widow. Jesus lived with his mother and his foster father, Joseph, and Joseph’s children. In Rice’s book, Joseph’s children from his previous marriage are present; James, the oldest, is now head of the family since Joseph is declining in health. Mary’s brother is present in the story, too, with his family. This holds to traditional Catholic and Orthodox teachings that the Blessed Virgin Mary was ever virgin.
The people of Nazareth and the family of Joseph hear that John the Baptist is baptizing people, so they decide to join people from other towns and go out to see what’s happening. Jesus goes with them, and when they met up with John the Baptist, Jesus comes forward to be baptized by John - who thinks that Jesus should baptize him instead; this episode is related in the Gospels. Jesus convinces John to baptize him and fulfill the Scriptures. Afterwards, Jesus goes out into the desert as the Gospels tell. After fasting and praying for forty days, the devil comes to tempt him. The devil does not know exactly who Jesus is, thinking that he is only a prophet and having no idea that this man was the Son of God. After the temptation, with Rice recreating and expanding upon the Gospel version, Jesus meets up with John the Baptist again and begins collecting disciples. They all join his family and others at his friend’s wedding at Cana. Here again Rice expands on the Gospel story of this event. The book ends with the miracle of water being turned into wine.
Based on the Gospels and historical events and wonderful to read and to ponder, the enthrallingThe Road to Cana shows both the humanity and the divinity of Jesus. This reviewer read it during the holy days of Holy Thursday and Good Friday. Though this is not about the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus, it was still a treat to
think on him during that time and to glimpse into Anne Rice’s spirituality and her imagining of what Jesus was or is like: a caring and loving God who wishes all to live. Though fictional, The Road to Cana is also very spiritual, a book of light and not darkness, and highly recommended to those who like Christian fiction, those who are looking for a spiritual fiction book, and those who are looking for a book to ponder on Jesus.