The Living Wood by Louis de Wohl
What an incredible book. It is a novel of Saint Helena and her son Emperor Constantine. I didn't know of St. Helena before I read this. I knew how Constantine had his army draw crosses on their shields and then they won the day, but that was about it. I learned a lot taking into consideration that the story is fiction based on fact. I was very interested in the story because I didn't know the story of St. Helena, who found the actual cross Jesus was crucified on (the Living Wood), and because I've become very interested in ancient history from teaching the subject to my kids.
Louis de Wohl is an amazing writer. He was able to describe the scenery so that I could picture it, but I never felt like the story was being bogged down with detail. It just naturally fit into the story. I loved his writing style. There were times when two people would be conversing, but rather than write the entire conversation, we get just the words or thoughts of one person which is enough to understand the conversation that took place. It gives the reader an understanding without the details that can slow down the story. I have never read a book that uses that technique, and I found I really enjoyed that.
My personal philosophy was affirmed a little by the book. It brings together thoughts of other great thinkers of other religions and ties them to the truth of Jesus. I don't think ancient Christians were the only ones touched by God and though I do believe Jesus is the Way, other religious views fit into the teachings of Christ or contain God's message. Helena's Celtic father talked often of the Living Wood, which now seems a message from God to Helena through her father. Constantine understand Virgil's poem based on his acquired knowledge of Christianity.
This book tells the story of incredibly faithful and flawed people who just come to life with de Wohl's writing. I'd like to continue gushing about this book, but I think enough has been said. I really loved this book and I'm excited to read more by Louis de Wohl!