The cover I chose features a detail of a painting by the Russian artist Alexander Ivanov, which I feel suits very nicely.
A review of my draft manuscript commissioned by Boydell and Brewer contained the following:
'In this book, Gordon Napier sets out to “tell the story of the Magdalene’s story,” in a way that transcends “conspiracy theory and mythology.” The author intends to examine and evaluate the historical evidence in order to piece together the history of Mary Magdalene’s image and cult through the “early Middle Ages” and into “the age of the crusades”. Particular strengths of the book are its examination of the saint and her cult in both orthodox and heterodox contexts and in both the Western and the Eastern church – cultural worlds which few scholars are willing or able to address jointly. The author considers that the age of the crusades was a pivotal moment in the cult, bringing an unprecedented degree of contact between different Christian (and non-Christian) traditions and leading to the cult’s promotion by a series of different groups for very different religious and political reasons.
In a post-Dan-Brown world, in which much nonsense is written about Mary Magdalene in particular and early Christianity in general, and in which it is crucial for history rather than mythology to reach the general public, this book has much to recommend it. For the most part it is engagingly written, in an accessible but not elementary style. It is enlivened by many references to and quotations from primary sources. Its treatment of such large historical developments as the crusades and the history of the mendicant orders is largely accurate, though necessarily superficial. The book’s division into two parts, one chronicling the evolution of different understandings of Mary Magdalene’s place in the Christian story and the other exploring the cult in and beyond the crusading era, is sensible. Its thematic chapters likewise are sensible and create an engaging structure... The conclusion is particularly well-written and engaging, and the epilogue and appendices are useful.'