Wendy Dunn's Reviews > Jerome and His Women

Jerome and His Women by Joan  O'Hagan
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it was amazing
bookshelves: historical-fiction

She summoned all her strength. Placing her hands in the grooves of the marble head of Apollo, she pushed it out onto the terrace and, with a cry, sent it crashing to the flagstones below. ~ Jerome and his Women.

The first three hundred years or so of the early Christian church marked a time when women were powerful and vital players in its establishment. Jerome and his Women shape a novel that illuminates some of the Roman women who nurtured the Christian church in its infancy.

In one important sense, this novel would have been better entitled Jerome's Women. While Saint Jerome, an early father of the church and a protégé of Pope Damasus I, gives the story purpose, it is the Roman women in this story who stand out and gives the story its true heart and substance.

The most important of these women is the complex and intelligent Paula. A Roman aristocratic and wealthy widow, Paula pours her energy and spiritual passion into assisting him to complete his commission to translate the Bible into Latin.

Paula’s daughter Blessilla is also a powerful figure in this work. Blessilla acts as a metaphor for Rome of this period. At the start of the story, she belongs more to the old ways of Rome than to the new. By the end of the story, she symbolises the final separation of the old Roman world from Christianity.

The past is another country; they do things differently there,” (Hartley and Brookes-Davies 1997: p.5). The best works of historical fiction always remember this. They are works which open the door to the past, invite us in, and keep us there by immersing us in a time long gone. Jerome and his Women easily falls into the category of the best kind of historical fiction. O’Hagan pens a meticulously researched novel that vividly shines a light on a time that shaped Western society forevermore.

Hartley, L.P. and D. Brooks-Davies (1997) The Go-Between. London; New York, Penguins Books.
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Reading Progress

August 8, 2020 – Started Reading
August 8, 2020 – Shelved
August 13, 2020 – Finished Reading
January 20, 2021 – Shelved as: historical-fiction

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message 1: by Denise (new)

Denise O'Hagan Thank you, Wendy - also for setting the novel in the context of the broad sweep of historical fiction, and the genre!

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