bookshelves: historical-fiction, own, 2012-100-plus-challenge, 2012-historical-fiction-challenge, read-in-2012, reviews
recommended for: historical fiction lovers
status: Read in April, 2012
Glenys, Celtic healer & herbalist in Aquae Sulis, Britannia & historical figure Hypatia of Alexandria are the strong female characters in this compelling tale. Set in 410AD, my sparse knowledge of this period in history and Willdorf's skilled storytelling made for a fascinating and page turning experience.
I loved the opening chapter; it detailed Glenys using her herbal and midwifery skills in a difficult birthing despite the recent edict prohibiting any engagement in the healing arts. Branded a sorceress she flees to escape the prescribed punishment; death by stoning.
The beautiful Hypatia; renowned philosopher, mathematician, astronomer, teacher and last librarian of The Ancient Library of Alexandria was a symbol of learning, feared by early Christians associating knowledge with paganism. When Glenys & Hypatia's paths cross their friendship is cemented but they, along with Jews and Hellenistic pagans continue to face bigotry, persec ution, blind hatred & brutality.
Hypatia's murder by a Christian mob was graphically detailed and after doing a little research of my own, I was horrified to read this was quite accurately portrayed.
I thoroughly enjoyed the main characters Glenys, Hypatia, & Jewish herbalist Aschi but Glenys' relationship with lover Ceallaigh made my skin crawl.
Willdorf vividly describes a period in history dominated by misplaced power, religious paranoia, ignorance and persecution but I could have easily consumed more, more pages and more detail. I look forward to more from this author.