Augustine, now Bishop of Hippo, is dying. In the courtyard outside, an old woman sits and waits. At one time she was his concubine and bore him a son. Now they are both very old, and as she waits, she recounts the story of her life.
The story is an illustration of the heartache caused by love across class boundaries in the ancient world. Augustine was the scion of a wealthy family, but being the youngest had to make his own way. His lover was from a lower class. Her father was skilled at laying mosaics, but that was the profession of an artisan, not a member of the upper classes. In order to live together, she became his concubine. Although the word today has pejorative connotations, at the time it mean common-law wife.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book. The writing is lyrical, but supports the telling of the old woman's life story without drawing attention to itself. The setting is historically accurate. I could feel what the world she lived in was like.
I highly recommend this book. It's a serious work of historical fiction. I chose it because having read the Confessions of Saint Augustine, I wanted to know more about the woman who appears, but is never named. I wasn't disappointed. This is a very well done book.
I received this book from BookLook Bloggers for this review.