The Confessions of X
The Confessions of X is an extremely unique book. In it, Suzanne M. Wolfe paints an intriguing and ultimately realistic picture of the "nameless woman from history", the concubine of Augustine. Augustine was an extremely influential church father and a theologian who helped form much of the Western Christian church. I was interested in this book because I do occasionally enjoy historical fiction (especially when it's biblically-related historical fiction) and the premise was so fresh and different that I figured I'd give it a try. The book description reads:
"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."
Like I said, this is a very unique and different book. For starters, the narrator remains anonymous throughout because her name has been lost to history. I appreciated that Suzanne stuck to these facts and did not fictionalize to the point of giving her a name and a face that we can never know, but rather worked with the facts that we do have to paint a broader picture. Written poetically and lyrically, this is an almost sad book, full of longing and never quite satisfying because of the story on which it is based. Suzanne shines a spotlight on a time in history which most people (and certainly me) have little to no understanding or knowledge of. I thoroughly enjoyed the authenticity she brought to the book and appreciated how she tried to make it as true to history as possible, while still fleshing out a compelling and interesting story. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.
I received a copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.