Synopses & Reviews
Two thousand years ago, Mary Magdalene hid a set of scrolls in the rocky foothills of the French Pyrenees, a gospel that contained her own version of the events and characters of the New Testament. Protected by supernatural forces, these sacred scrolls could be uncovered only by a special seeker, one who fulfills the ancient prophecy of l'attendue The Expected One.
When journalist Maureen Pascal begins the research for a new book, she has no idea that she is stepping into an ancient mystery so secret, so revolutionary, that thousands of people have killed and died for it. She becomes deeply immersed in the mystical cultures of southwest France as the eerie prophecy of The Expected One casts a shadow over her life and work and a long-buried family secret comes to light.
Maureen's extraordinary journey takes her from the dusty streets of Jerusalem to the cathedrals of Paris...and ultimately to search for the scrolls themselves. She must unravel clues that link history's great artistic masters, including Sandro Botticelli, Nicolas Poussin, and Jean Cocteau; the Medici, Bourbon, and Borgia dynasties; and great scientific minds like Leonardo da Vinci and Isaac Newton. Ultimately, she, and the reader, come face-to-face with Jesus Christ, Mary Magdalene, John the Baptist, Judas, and Salome in the pages of a deeply moving and powerful new gospel, the life of Jesus as told by Mary Magdalene.
"The standard religious-thriller architecture is evident in McGowan's much-heralded debut, which coincidentally shares similarities with The Da Vinci Code (e.g., murders, Vatican interference, nefarious secret societies), but mostly the characters sit and talk about biblical history and the search for Magdalene-connected treasure. Biblical dreams and visions plague American Maureen Paschal, author of the bestselling HERstory a Defense of History's Most Hated Heroines. When she travels to France's mysterious Languedoc region at the urging of Magdalene scholar Lord Berenger Sinclair, Maureen finds what has eluded centuries of treasure hunters the original Magdalene scrolls that detail her love affair with Jesus, their marriage and the crucifixion. Though the author makes no effort to render these gospel excerpts in period prose, they're the most compelling part of a novel otherwise freighted with romance-fiction stylings and unadorned facts numbingly narrated. Originally self-published, this first of a trilogy has already sold foreign rights in 22 countries." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"This work, based on 20 years of research, may prove to be more controversial than Brown's book, as it addresses not only the possibility that Jesus and Mary Magdalene produced offspring but also that other biblical relationships may have differed from what the Catholic Church had ordained to be true." Library Journal
About the Author
Kathleen McGowan is an internationally published writer whose work has appeared on five continents and in at least fifteen languages. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and three sons.
Reading Group Guide
Reading Group GuideThe Expected OneBy Kathleen McGowan
When journalist Maureen Paschal begins the research for a new book, she has no idea that she is stepping into an ancient mystery so complex and dangerous that thousands of people have killed and died for it. Disturbing visions of a woman in red veils haunt her dreams and color her life, driving Maureen to seek the help of experts on everything from religion to folklore to occult societies. Along with her cousin, Father Peter Healy, and a handful of new friends steeped in the history she finds herself inextricably linked to, Maureen travels to France to unravel the secrets of an undiscovered treasure resting somewhere in the rocky wilds of the French Pyrenees. A series of scrolls written in the first century by Mary Magdalene, these startling documents hold the power to redefine the events and characters of the New Testament. Protected by supernatural forces, the priceless cache can only be uncovered by a special seeker, one who has been chosen for the task by divine providence -- The Expected One. Meanwhile, a renegade and ruthless secret society that has operated throughout Europe and the United States for centuries, The Guild of the Righteous is pathologically obsessed with the treasure. For their own shocking reasons they will stop at nothing to secure the priceless scrolls for themselves -- and eliminate those who oppose them.
1. Maureen has her students take a vow to remember: "History is not what happened. History is what was written down." She later discusses the importance of "experiential understanding" when touring the Cathar region of Languedoc, France with Jean-Claude. How do you feel about Maureen's approach to studying the past? What are the benefits and drawbacks to relying on oral traditions for information?
2. Maureen's book, Herstory, proposes that, throughout history, male record-keepers and scholars have intentionally slandered women. Identify some of the historically important women mentioned in The Expected One. Discuss and compare their stories as you first learned them to their stories as retold by characters in the novel.
3. Many characters in this novel struggle to reconcile the idea of religion with faith, "Church" with spiritual experience. Describe some of the personal conflicts that these characters encounter, such as Maureen's visions versus her disdain for the Church. What concepts or situations in the novel leave you feeling similarly torn?
4. Father Peter Healy explains, "for people of faith the facts simply don't matter. But don't make the common mistake of confusing faith with ignorance." Do you think his opinion has changed by the end of the novel? Do you think that faith and fact can coexist? What are the dangers of holding to faith to the exclusion of fact, and vice versa?
5. Why do you think the author chose to interject passages from the Arques Gospel of Mary Magdalene, The Book of Disciples, throughout the novel? Discuss how each cited passage relates to the text it precedes.
6. Names are an important factor in genealogy. Identify the characters with names that have significance to the story. For example, Maureen ("Little Mary") and Paschal (which indicates her relation to Mary the Shepherdess and the Expected One prophecy).
7. As she pursues the truth about Mary Magdalene and Jesus, Maureen learns much about the politics of the early Christian movement. Discuss the ways in which politics influenced this novel's version of biblical events.
8. In this novel, both John the Baptist and Jesus are martyred for different reasons and to different effects. How were the deaths of these two critical figures each beneficial and detrimental to the Christian movement as described in the novel?
9. When did you first suspect who the "Messiah" of the Guild of the Righteous was? Were you surprised to learn that followers of John have developed such a different variation of Christianity than followers of the Nazarenes?
10. Tammy and Maureen contemplate the resistance of most theologians to the idea of Jesus as a married man. Tammy says to Maureen, "How does that impact his divinity? I just don't see it." What do you think? Would it change your opinion of Christianity if Jesus married Mary Magdalene and fathered children? Do you think he could have been both the Son of God and a family man? Why or why not?
11. Regardless of his motives, John the Baptist is portrayed as an abusive, controlling husband to Mary. Yet Mary prays for his forgiveness for the rest of her life. Is this a realistic response? Contrast this with Salome, who schemes to have John arrested and whose manipulations ultimately lead to his death.
12. Love and forgiveness are critical elements of Christianity, or "The Way" as the Jesus and Mary Magdalene of this novel taught it. For Maureen, forgiving her cousin Peter for his betrayal seems to come so easily. Which other characters are also in a position to forgive? Which choose to do so and why?
13. It is clear early on that someone is watching Maureen very closely. Were you surprised to find out that it was Peter all along? Did you expect Peter to steal the scrolls to give them to the Church? What clues, if any, did you pick up on throughout the novel?
14. Many of the characters in The Expected One turn out to be quite different than they appear. Which characters' true roles in the plot were you most surprised to discover, and why?
15. If the information presented in this novel turned out to be true, how do you think it would change Christianity? Do you think it could change the world? Why or why not?
16. Every story has two sides. Identify and discuss the alternate views presented in the novel regarding historical figures, events, and works of art or literature such as the execution of John the Baptist, Joan of Arc, da Vinci's "The Last Supper" and Mary Magdalene.
Enhance Your Book Club Experience
Visit the author's website at www.theexpectedone.com to learn more about The Magdalene Line series and the books that influenced the author's research.
Attend a local art exhibit or bring photocopies or printouts of da Vinci's and Botticelli's various works depicting Mary Magdalene, John the Baptist, and Jesus to the next meeting of your reading group. Examine their symbolism together and see if you agree or disagree with the interpretations given in the novel.
Research the Languedoc region of France, the setting for most of The Expected One and the location in which Mary Magdalene is reported to have spent the latter part of her life. You can start with photos and descriptions at www.languedoc-france.info and read more about the Cathar doctrines at www.le-guide.com/catharindex.com
Names are important to Maureen ("Little Mary"), as they provide clues to our genealogy. Have everyone in the group research the origin of his or her name, and then write the history on an index card. Read the cards out loud and have everyone guess which name is which.
The author subtly touches on the controversies surrounding the bestselling novel, The Da Vinci Code, when Maureen explains to her students that she didn't address the issue of Jesus and Mary's potentially intimate relationship because she "doesn't believe there is any evidence to back up those claims." If you've read The Da Vinci Code, compare its version of the Mary Magdalene secrets to those revealed in The Expected One.
If you enjoyed The Expected One, you might try one of the following books. After you've read both have a meeting to discuss them. Which stories, characters, and mysteries did you most appreciate?
The Secret SupperThe Da Vinci CodeThe Templar LegacyThe Last TemplarThe Knights TemplarThe Templar RevelationThe Templar PapersThe Knight's Templar ChronologyThe Lost Colony of the TemplarsThe Jesus PapersThe Judas GospelsThe Jesus DynastyResurrection Of Mary Magdalene: Legends, Apocrypha, And The Christian TestamentSt. Mary MagdaleneThe Gospels of Mary: The Secret Tradition of Mary Magdalene, the Companion of JesusThe Lost Sisterhood: The Return of Mary Magdalene, The Mother Mary, and Other Holy WomenSearching for Mary Magdalene: A Journey Through Art and LiteratureThe Treasure of Rennes-le-Chateau: A Mystery SolvedBotticelli