Before he became the sainted church father of Christianity, Augustine of Hippo began a love affair with a young woman whose name has been lost to history. They were together for over thirteen years, and she bore him a son. This is her story.
She met Augustine in Carthage when she was just seventeen years old. She was the daughter of a tile-layer. He was a student and the heir to a fortune. They fell in love, despite her lower station and Augustine’s dreams of greatness. Their passion was strong, but the only position in his life that was available to her was as his concubine. When Augustine’s ambition and family compelled him to disown his relationship with the her, X was thrust into a devastating reality as she was torn from her son and sent away to her native Africa.
A reflection of what it means to love and lose, this novel paints a gripping and raw portrait of ancient culture, appealing to historical fiction fans while deftly exploring one woman’s search for identity and happiness within very limited circumstances.
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About the Author: Suzanne M. Wolfegrew up in Manchester, England and read EnglishLiterature at Oxford University, where she co-founded the Oxford C.S. Lewis Society. She is Writer in Residence at Seattle Pacific University and has taught literature and creative writing there since 2000. Wolfe is the author of Unveiling: A Novel (Paraclete Press, 2004). Twenty five years ago, she and her husband, Gregory Wolfe, co-founded Image, a journal of the arts and faith. They have also co-authored many books on literature and prayer including Books That Build Character: How to Teach Your Child Moral Values Through Stories (with William Kirk Kilpatrick, Simon & Schuster, 1994), and Bless This House: Prayers For Children and Families (Jossey-Bass, 2004). Her essays and blog posts have appeared in Image and other publications. Wolfe is currently working on a series of mystery novels set in Elizabethan London. She and her husband are the parents of four grown children. They live in Richmond Beach, Washington. Find out more at http://www.suzannemwolfe.com/ My Take:
To be honest, when I received this book in the mail randomly to review, I wasn't really sure how I would like it. I am a history buff, so that interested me, but a novel about a concubine.... well that kind of threw me off. I was a bit nervous about what I would fine. Having never read any material by Suzanne Wolfe, I didn't know what to expect either. But now, I am simply awed at such a remarkable story of love, forgiveness, hope, life.
"X" is the daughter of a poor mosaic tile-layer. Her father was well-know for his artistic works, and yet, because of the loss of her mother, he buried himself in the drink until finally he was no more. She was brought up along side him, his hope, his joy, his comfort. Going from job to job with him and acting as his apprentice, until she was 12 and no longer a child. Her aunt decided it was time for her to stay at home, she would raise her. The environment, a bit hostile, especially in they eyes of a tomboyish girl who missed her father and was now being tamed and turned into a woman. She lived there, until she was seventeen and fell in love with Augustine. Augustine's social position prohibited marriage to her, so instead, she opted to become his concubine. The only problem, he would never be able to rise in status as long as he was with her.
This is a moving and compelling story of the journey of a woman, her love for her family, her man, and her sacrifice for their happiness. I totally enjoyed the historical aspect of it, the characters, their interaction, and the details of their lives. She begins as an old woman remembering her story from a child to the current day. Her journey was hard, full of trials, heartache and pain, and yet, she finds joy, a happiness. Amidst the loss, she finds, healing. She is a giver, thinking of others, dying to self. Her story is moving and touching. I have to recommend you have tissues handy, especially towards the end. Suzanne did an amazing job intertwining facts and fiction. The definition of a concubine back then, slightly different from what we might think of today. Highly recommended!
Disclosure: This book was provided to me by the Fiction Guild in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required to review positively and no other compensation was given.