Saturday, October 11, 2014

Virtual Book Tour for The Sharp Hook of Love by Sherry Jones

Welcome to my stop on the Virtual Book Tour, presented by France Book Tours, for The Sharp Hook of Love by Sherry Jones.  Please leave a comment or question for Sherry to let her know you stopped by.  You can enter her tour wide giveaway by filling out the Give-Away Tools form below.  You can also follow the rest of the tour here, the more stops you visit, the better your odds of winning.  My review is running late but should post tomorrow.  

The Course of True Love: Abelard and Heloise by Sherry Jones

If Abelard and Heloise were on Facebook today, their relationship status would read, “It’s Complicated.”

This dynamic duo lived 900 years ago, in Paris. Peter Abelard was the greatest philosopher in France, if not the world, and so arrogant that he made many enemies. He was also a handsome poet whose beautiful songs made women swoon.

Heloise d’Argenteuil was a young woman scholar living with her uncle in Paris in 1115. Abelard moved in with Heloise and her uncle Fulbert, and became Heloise’s teacher. They had a passionate, erotic love affair that, unfortunately, the uncle discovered. Fulbert took revenge on Abelard in a manner that still shocks us today, and that caused the lovers to part forever.

Their story, which I heard from a philosophy teacher, piqued my interest in writing about this famous couple. With its compelling characters and dramatic narrative, I knew it could make a great novel. More than that, the story of Abelard and Heloise illuminates the enduring power of love, a valuable lesson in today’s throwaway culture.

Was Abelard a rogue?

Of course, not everyone sees the lovers in the same light. To many, Abelard was a cad, a jerk who seduced his student and then forced her to join the convent. They wonder why Heloise, an otherwise intelligent woman, would love such a man.

I thought the same, at first. Abelard’s confessional, Historia Calamitatum, portrays him as a bored, arrogant rogue who set out to seduce his innocent pupil:

“I considered all the usual attractions for a lover and decided she was the one to bring to my bed, confident that I should have an easy success; for at that time I had youth and exceptional good looks as well as my great reputation to recommend me, and feared no rebuff from any woman I might choose to honor with my love.”

By the time I finished his autobiography, my fingers itched to wield the weapon of revenge myself. And what of Heloise? She wrote to him years later of her continuing love. How could she grovel so, this erudite, strong woman who built one of the largest convents in the realm, and served as its abbess?

It’s complicated.

History: in the eye of the beholder

In writing historical fiction, the story novelists tell depends on which version of history we believe.

Did Abelard portray himself and his motives honestly, or did he exaggerate his sinfulness to heighten the effect of his redemption?

Was Heloise a feminist before her time? She did, after all, refuse his initial marriage proposal, saying she preferred “love to wedlock, and freedom to chains.” She suggested, instead, that she be Abelard’s mistress.

Or was Heloise a submissive doormat blinded by love? “It was not any sense of vocation which brought me as a young girl to accept the austerities of the cloister, but your bidding alone,” she wrote to Abelard fifteen years after they had parted, when she was already the abbess of the Paraclete Oratory.

To read these later letters between them—the Historia Calamitatum and the three personal letters that follow, recounting their tragic tale—it’s easy to conclude that Abelard never loved Heloise at all.

But then, in 1999, Professor Constant J. Mews published 113 anonymous letters that he has convincingly argued are “lost love letters” written between Abelard and Heloise while they were lovers. (His book, “The Lost Love Letters of Heloise and Abelard,” contains all the exquisite letters in Latin and English.)

These letters provide a much different picture of the couple. We see Heloise’s pride when Abelard has slighted her; we see her trying, at one point, to end the relationship completely—and we see him begging her forgiveness.

We also see in Abelard a tender, sweet suitor utterly in love with Heloise.

While I sleep you never leave me, and after I wake I see you, even before the light of day itself, writes the “Man” in one of these letters — the man thought to be Abelard. He also writes, Every day the flame of love for you rises even more.

Imagine my delight to discover these letters, and to be the first to incorporate them into a novel about the lovers. Who, upon reading them, could doubt Abelard’s sincerity, or his love for Heloise? Who could doubt that she sacrificed everything for him out of strength, not weakness?

The Sharp Hook of Love
By Sherry Jones

Publisher:  Gallery Books (An Imprint of Simon & Schuster)
Release Date: October 7, 2014
Genre: Historical Fiction
Length: 352 Pages
ISBN: 978-1451684797

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About the book: 

“To forbid the fruit only sweetens its flavor”

Among the young women of 12th century Paris, Heloise d’Argenteuil stands apart. Extraordinarily educated and quick-witted, she is being groomed by her uncle to become an abbess in the service of God.

But with one encounter, her destiny changes forever. Pierre Abelard, headmaster at the Nôtre Dame Cloister School, is acclaimed as one of the greatest philosophers in France. His controversial reputation only adds to his allure, yet despite the legions of women swooning over his poetry and dashing looks, he is captivated by the brilliant Heloise alone. As their relationship blossoms from a meeting of the minds to a forbidden love affair, both Heloise and Abelard must choose between love, duty, and ambition.

Sherry Jones weaves the lovers’ own words into an evocative account of desire and sacrifice. As intimate as it is erotic, as devastating as it is beautiful, The Sharp Hook of Love is a poignant, tender tribute to one of history’s greatest romances, and to love’s power to transform and endure. 

SHERRY JONES is also the author of Four Sisters, All Queens;
The Sword of Medina; and her controversial, internationally bestselling debut, The Jewel of Medina.

She lives in Spokane, Washington.

Visit her website.

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and Linked In

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Send her an email: sherry [at] authorsherryjones [dot]com

Enter to Win one of the Print Copies (US) or eBook Copies (International) of 
The Sharp Hook of Love by Sherry Jones.  

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