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.
Sincere thanks to the Thomas Nelson & Zondervan Fiction Guild for providing me with a complimentary copy to read and review. Opinions and thoughts are 100% my own, and are in no way influenced by the author or publisher.
This book was a bit of an enigma for me; it was strange, emotional, sometimes even haunting. It is amazing to me that people lived this way back in the day, but even more, it made me thankful that I was not among them.
To me, The Confessions of X was lyrically written, but it held almost too much “purple prose” for my liking. There were times that I would have to go back and re-read certain sentences because the descriptions would get so long and the sentences so drawn out, that I would forget what the author was talking about to begin with. This was especially so at the beginning. As the story flowed on, it got less and less, but then towards the end, it picked back up again and I found myself skimming over a paragraph here and there because to me, it added nothing to the story.
I would not recommend this book for younger (under 16) teens, as there were a few mature elements to the book that I personally feel would not be appropriate for them. Descriptions of the brutality of childbirth in that day and age, a few descriptions of the female anatomy, references to sexual situations. Please know that there was nothing vulgar, and there were no sex scenes, but I was surprised to find certain parts of this book being spoken of in a book published by Thomas Nelson.
I did learn about some parts of history that I hadn’t heard before, and it was very interesting to me to see how life was lived back then. I will admit that my mother-heart is selfish; I don’t think I would have had the courage to do what “X” did, and it made me look deeper into myself. It is definitely a book that will make you think.
In the end, I am glad that I had a chance to read The Confessions of X, and if you like historical fiction, I think you would probably enjoy it. It is a book that stands out from others.
I would be truly interested to hear your thoughts, if you have read this book!