Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Confessions of X by Suzanne M. Wolfe

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.
She met Augustine in Carthage when she was seventeen. She was the poor daughter of a mosaic-layer; he was a promising student and heir to a fortune. His brilliance and passion intoxicated her, but his social class would be forever beyond her reach. She became his concubine, and by the time he was forced to leave her, she was thirty years old and the mother of his son. And his Confessions show us that he never forgot her. She was the only woman he ever loved.
In a society in which classes rarely mingle on equal terms, and an unwed mother can lose her son to the burgeoning career of her ambitious lover, this anonymous woman was a first-hand witness to Augustine’s anguished spiritual journey from secretive religious cultist to the celebrated Bishop of Hippo.
Giving voice to one of history’s most mysterious women, The Confessions of X tells the story of Augustine of Hippo’s nameless lover, their relationship before his famous conversion, and her life after his rise to fame. A tale of womanhood, faith, and class at the end of antiquity, The Confessions of X is more than historical fiction . . . it is a timeless story of love and loss in the shadow of a theological giant.

Saint Augustine of Hippo was an early Christian philosopher whose writings had a strong influence on Christianity. He was the Bishop of Hippo in Numidia and is revered as one of the most important Church fathers in history. When he was 19, Augustine fell in love with a young woman of a lower class. Their relationship was forbidden, even though she bore him a son named Adeodatus. His family arranged a marriage to a ten year old heiress, but because she could not marry until the age of twelve, the wedding was postponed. Torn between love and duty, Augustine decided to become a celibate priest, abandoning both women. Who was this woman whom he loved? Her name remains unknown, but it has captured the imagination of historians for centuries. THE CONFESSIONS OF X attempts to shed light on the mystery. 
Told in the voice of St. Augustine’s concubine, referred to as Una (the One), it is a poignant imagining of her life. The tale opens with her describing their first meeting, their love affair and relationship, the birth of their son, and finally, her life after he abandoned her for religion. 
I thoroughly loved this book. Its pace flowed steadily, the historic detail splendid. It is the kind of book that sucked me in completely and which I was loathe to put down. Rich with secondary plots and the plight of women who were oppressed by men in this era, it is a book definitely worth reading. I highly recommend it. Definitely a 5 star read!
Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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