Monday, May 2, 2016
The Confessions of X- Suzanne M. Wolfe
Description: 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.
My Thoughts: This is by no means a quick read. Wolfe's lyrical form of writing requires the reader take their time and mull over her descriptions, mentally digesting images of life and living. The analogies she uses fill an otherwise straight forward narrative of everyday life with complexity. But though the writing is beautiful, I could not find myself fully engaged in the story.
Though "X"s life is bittersweet, having years of love and a son only for those to be taken from her, I did not find the majority of it to be captivating or even all that interesting. I could have done without a recount of her childhood or how often her and Augustine "come together". As a work of fiction, I would have preferred there have been more focus on certain events, such as her decision to become Augustine's concubine, rather than the full scope of her life.
There are redeeming qualities to this, and those who love lyrical prose and narratives of a character's life story will absolutely enjoy The Confessions of X. However, the narrative was one that struck me as simply ok rather than attention grabbing.
I received this book through the Fiction Guild in exchange for an honest review.