LillyBooks's Reviews > The Sharp Hook of Love: A Novel of Heloise and Abelard

The Sharp Hook of Love by Sherry Jones
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did not like it

** spoiler alert ** Mon Dieu, this book is terrible. Being a Francophile, I am familiar with the legend of Heloise and Abelard, the original pair of star-crossed lovers. Their story is told in a few letters that they wrote in old age which contain beautiful, beautiful passages even if I find the whole story far-fetched. So I was interested to read a fictionalized account of how their grand passion started. My first complaint with this book (which I did not finish), is that Heloise is reduced to brain-dead teenager. According to history, Heloise was the most famous female scholar of her time, renowned throughout Europe for her brilliance, and an accomplished physician. Here, it's a wonder she can string two sentences together. She "falls in love" with her new tudor, Abelard, who seems to only desire her for her beauty from the beginning. I would share what Abelard taught the great Heloise, but in this book it appears to only be sadism. (If I wanted to read Fifty Shades of Gray, I would.) And then he rapes her! And we're supposed to believe that - I am not making this up - that no sooner does she wake up and realize that she is being raped by drunken man that she starts to enjoy it and falls even deeper in love with him! I know that in the original letters there a line that suggests Abelard did rape Heloise. However, it's open to debate, which has been very vigorous. So, as a author, you want to write the one of the world's greatest love stories, and you decide to use this version of events? How is that acceptable, let alone romantic and loving?
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
November 14, 2014 – Finished Reading
November 15, 2014 – Shelved

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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message 1: by The Just-About-Cocky Ms M (last edited Jan 23, 2015 05:07PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

The Just-About-Cocky Ms M I agree with your assessment of the mischaracterization of Heloise, and the equally silly Abelard. Worse are the historical details and the complete ignorance of anything to do with the 12th century Church, the clergy, or anything relating to either. Tossing in a few French and Latin words does not remedy the overall blandness of the setting. There are also some pretty egregious historical mistakes as well, too numerous to mention here. The scene where Bernard of Clairvaux allegedly expressed his views of women in the [ruins of] St-Etienne in 1115, when he was really away founding his abbey? And the portrayal of poor Uncle Fulbert, and Abbe Suger? The mind boggles.


message 2: by Mary (new)

Mary Thank you for the rape spoilers...was considering this book before I read your review. Now it's definitely one to pass!


message 3: by Thayer (new)

Thayer Berlyn Thank you for this review, as I was curious about the book. The problem with Abelard and Heloise, at the onset, is that history leaves posterity few details, but one fact is absolute, and that is that both Peter Abelard and Heloise were fierce intellectuals, particularly in the arena of Stoicism. Even the most adept writers of historical fiction hesitate to touch on figures where history leaves scant detail to support a responsible speculation about their lives. The danger is always that the lay reader will embrace the fiction and disregard what actual data exists.


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