“Sometimes the living die and sometimes the dead live on and it is difficult to tell the difference.”
I love books that immerse you in a time period and era so deeply, you can almost forget you’re reading a book on a couch centuries later. But that’s exactly what this book did; from the heat of Northern Africa, to the bustling city of Milan, to the reality for women, to all the details in between, this is about a woman who helped to shape one our faith’s most impactful men.
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.
“Our attraction to beauty is what He gives us to draw the will. We desire what is beautiful and restlessly seek it out. When we find it, we find God.”
Y’all, what a wonderful read! I haven’t studied much of Augustine (Further proof I had the worst Church History professor in existence. Still haven’t let that one go…one day I will), so getting more of his background was fascinating in its own right, but living it through the eyes of the woman he loved and who bore his son…so so great.
This is a novel that makes you feel. Wolfe’s skill of evoking the same emotions X feels is what made this a read I couldn’t put down. From her falling in love with Augustine to her heartbreaks, sacrifice, motherly love and friendships, I was fully involved in their story.
And for my fellow history fans, this book fully takes you to antiquity. From the fascinating details (like how ancient cities of Carthage functioned) to the frustrating details (the lack of rights and everything women lacked…never easy to read while in 2016) to all the interesting facts (like what it meant to be a concubine then versus what it means to us now), you’ll soak up every detail.
Another excellent release from Thomas Nelson and crew. I love seeing the variety and topics they are publishing!
Have you studied Augustine of Hippo? I plan on reading his Confessions soon!
(Thank you to BookLook Bloggers for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)