The story of Héloïse d'Argenteuil and Peter Abelard is a testament to one woman's devotion to the heart of one man, creating a love story, albeit tragThe story of Héloïse d'Argenteuil and Peter Abelard is a testament to one woman's devotion to the heart of one man, creating a love story, albeit tragic, which trembles the deepest core of posterity's romantic longing---that what we hold deepest might last eternally. In the spirit of fiction inter-woven with what limited documents exist, Stealing Heaven, while rife with dramatic license (and some odd anachronisms which seem out of place in 12th century France), does fair justice to a complex and multi-layered relationship in an era where social, scholastic and ecclesiastical ambiguities were not easily, if at all, tolerated. I think Marion Meade presents the heated romance and astonishing endurance through separation of the two lovers well, but I'm not convinced she portrays the core of either Héloïse or Abelard, which first and foremost was an intensely passionate embrace of intellectualism. Perhaps it was that very intensity which ignited the physical between the two, as though each desired to consume the mind through the body of the other.
The author utilizes the relatively brief account of Abelard's affair with Héloïse written by Abelard, himself, in, A history of my Calamities, for the basis of the book, which is the only record we have of the events surrounding the actual incident. It could be argued that Meade's story is one sided (Héloïse), but I think this is appropriate in that history only leaves us with Héloïse's emotional response written a decade after the affair in her letters to Abelard ...sparked by her discovery of the Calamaties. After Abelard's testicular injury at the hands of Héloïse's possessive uncle, he became consumed by a terror of Hell and, in his 12th century world view, the justice of a wrathful, yet merciful God. Héloïse, however, was a believer in absolute love (and this for Peter Abelard) and it was to that memory (and possibly tragic hope) she devoted a life of passionate anguish to a vocation, albeit a successful one, she was by nature and fierce intellect not suited for. Did Abelard love the remarkable Héloïse with the equal devotion for which she loved him? That is part of the complexity of the whole story. I want to believe he did. Certainly, he desired that she closet herself away in a religious order rather than risk the possibility of her being exposed to any relationship beyond himself. I think he was adept at suppressing his emotions after his egregious physical injury and subsequent separation, and selective in his reasoning with regard to the relationship, itself. I suspect part of the tragedy is that these two were born before their time; however, it must be remembered that Peter Abelard was instrumental in changing the coarse of scholasticism as it is handed down to the world today.
I would prefer to give the book a 3.5, but since this is not an option, I will go with 3 stars. It is well written for its purpose. I actually liked the Chris Bryant screenplay better for the Clive Donner film, Stealing Heaven, that was loosely, very, very loosely, based on the Marion Meade book. Although equally fictionalized (how could it not be?), I thought it more balanced in perspective....more
Having read Ms. Fitzgerald's, Royal Slave, years ago and recently reacquainting with the book, I never realized the story had a sequel. Ignorance, itHaving read Ms. Fitzgerald's, Royal Slave, years ago and recently reacquainting with the book, I never realized the story had a sequel. Ignorance, it turns out, really is bliss. It is difficult to comprehend that this book, Slave Lady, was written by the same author. The central characters (Cassia and Vincent) lost all the edge that made them appealing in the first book and are unconvincing as a couple reclaiming their lives and as individual characters seeking to right past wrongs. The writing is strangely amateurish, the plot forced and the dialogue immature...a complete 180 from book one. Honestly, I don't know why any sequel was ever written. While there were a couple of promising moments, each deflated quickly. Oddly, I don't regret reading the book, I only regret discovering its existence....more
This story read like a well written obituary, as though the events, triumphs and defeats of one life were merely extracted from a diary and plainly chThis story read like a well written obituary, as though the events, triumphs and defeats of one life were merely extracted from a diary and plainly chronicled. There is nothing wrong with this. I only hoped for something deeper to rise to the surface. It never did. ...more
This book was kind of a rainy day read for me. Not my usual fare, but I wanted something a little different. I was not disappointed. Good, fast pace sThis book was kind of a rainy day read for me. Not my usual fare, but I wanted something a little different. I was not disappointed. Good, fast pace suspense with a weave of wit, introspection and interesting interactions between characters. ...more
"My Clearest Me" is a charming, poignant story about a child's discovery of his own unique and special place in this world. The illustrations are deli"My Clearest Me" is a charming, poignant story about a child's discovery of his own unique and special place in this world. The illustrations are delightful and add a grace and beauty to an already special tale. I think this book is worthy of publication as it is, with any edits being so minor as to hardly be noticeable. The book would be a meaningful addition to any child's home or school library. I wish it were available in print, at the very least. ...more