SUMMARY: 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 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.
REVIEW: This book is different from any other I think I've ever read. It is written in first person but the main character is never called by name. Now, there are nicknames and pet names but the name given to her by her parents is never revealed.
It took me a little while to really get into the story. It is set in 360-430 AD. The author tells the story of X's beginning, her life with Augustine and their son, and the events that might have taken place after she left. While the author does not go into graphic detail of X's life as Augustine's concubine, she does not hold back any punches. Life was hard and especially hard for someone who did not grow up with wealth or position. Even though she lived with him as husband and wife, X was never granted the privileges that went along with that distinction. There were many times she was looked down upon but also many places she was honored and loved.
If you are not familiar with Augustine, his live and beliefs, you won't learn much about him. Since I fall in that category, I was surprised that, even though he grew up with a Christian mother, he seemed to come to complete knowledge of Christ at a later age. This book does not say if X became a Christian but she did support him wholeheartedly in every pursuit he took on.
This is not your typical Christian fiction novel. While it does show you what live was like for concubines, this author imagines X's life a little better than most. It was an interesting read that I suggest you try out.
This book was provided by Fiction Guild and Thomas Nelson Publishers
for review without compensation.
Suzanne M. Wolfe grew up in Manchester, England, and read English Literature 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. Wolf is the author of Unveiling: A Novel (Paraclete Press, 2004) and co-founder, along with her husband, of Image, a journal of the arts and faith. Suzanne and Greg have co-authored many books on literature and prayer and are the parents of four grown children. They live outside of Seattle. Visit the author's website at www.suzannemwolfe.com.