Thursday, March 24, 2016

Noteworthy fiction from the month of Love- The Confessions of X

February, with it's hallmark holiday of Valentine's Day, seems to bring out the die hard Romantic in me. It seemed like the perfect month-with all the rainy days- to curl up with a good work novel with a romantic leaning. I chose The Confessions of X and was not disappointed! 

The Tag line from the book description is -Before he became a father of the Christian Church, Augustine of Hippo loved a woman whose name has been lost to history. This is her story. Saint Augustine is a figure from Church history that has always interested me but that I honestly know very little about. After reading this historically inspired novel about his love life, I have to say I am more intrigued to delve into his classic, The Confessions of Augustine. I appreciate all the research the author, Suzanne M. Wolfe, put into her work with this book and the fascinating Author's note about all her findings at the end of the book. 

  The story's nameless main character is the daughter of a poor, widower mosaic layer whose job brings him and his daughter into close proximity to the rich upper class who commission his works of art for their homes. As a young girl, X befriends the son of a well off family and the establish a life long friendship that transcends social class. Years later, X reunites with her good friend and promptly falls in love with his brilliant and charming best friend, Augustine. Augustine truly loves X and asks her to "marry" him, in the sense of becoming his concubine- basically his common law wife (the woman he was in a committed relationship with but she got none of the legal benefits of marriage.) I appreciated coming to a better understanding of what a concubine meant in those times; It almost feels like this will be a very scandalous book, when in fact, we find the story of a young couple who find a deep soul connection and who pursue a legitimate relationship in the only way the social class of that day would let them. The writing style of this book is raw and gripping- some of the depictions of X and Augustine's relationship and intimacy is passionate but I wouldn't say inappropriate. The first person perspective of X and her life journey really draw you in and you feel a real empathy for all she goes thru. 

I got very caught up in this story of a woman whose position in life was so dictated by what social class she was born into, but she innocently embraced love and loved her husband and child with all she had. This is a powerful account of complex life circumstances and a sacrificial love that did whatever was necessary for the ultimate best of the Beloved. In fact, the book reveals to us that ultimately X's love brought Augustine to a true understanding and faith in God. I can't say I wouldn't wish a "happier" ending for this story, but it may not be for the better. This is a poignant novel that you don't come away from unaffected- that's my kind of novel.

  I received this book in exchange for my honest review thanks to Book Look Bloggers.


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