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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Saints Alive

The Restless Flame:A Novel About St. Augustine by Louis de Wohl

The Restless Flame: A Novel about Saint AugustineThis novel is about the St. Augustine who is the son of St. Monica of Tabaste in Northern Africa.  I loved The Living Wood by de Wohl so much, I was excited to read another of his books.  Of the many saints he's written about, I chose St. Augustine because I knew a tiny bit of his life and was familiar with some of his famous quotes, but I wanted to know more.  I also admire St. Monica and her faith and persistence that led to her husband and son both converting. 

Again, de Wohl does a magnificent job.  I love his writing style.  This book was written similarly to The Living Wood.  Most of the book is about Augustine's life as a youth and young man.  This helps you understand and appreciate his conversion.  After his conversion, the rest of the book takes place many years later.  Then, most of St. Augustine's work and piety are told to the reader by Augustine's friends and those studying his works.  The ending is wonderfully told and leaves you with peace.

I learned a lot from the book (realizing it is historical fiction).  I hadn't known how thoughtful/philosophical Augustine was his whole life, even before his conversion to Catholicism.  I also didn't realize Augustine and his mother knew St. Ambrose.  It was neat to think of all three of these eventual-saints together in the same church.  I wish I knew what Ambrose thought of St. Augustine when he lived in his parish.  Reading this story has also made me very interested in reading some of St. Augustine's works.

Obviously, I highly recommend this book.  Knowing about the history of the time is helpful but don't let that stop you from reading the book.  de Wohl does a good job of explaining what really needs explaining, and you can gloss over the rest of the names and still get the substance of the story.  The biggest problem you'll probably have will be deciding which one of de Wohl's books to read next.

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