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.
Sapiophiles unite. Heloise and Abelard are our heroes.
Faith. Knowledge. Friendship. Lust. CASTRATION. Thus is the story of Heloise and Abelard. A love story steeped in provocative intellectual sparring and the knowledge of forbidden fruit. If you are a fan of the great and tragic romances of Romeo and Juliet, Antony and Cleopatra, or Tristan and Isolde, then you are a fan of Heloise and Abelard: star-crossed lovers whose characters were crucified for the love they bore each other.
If you enjoy historical fiction with strong female protagonists then you will enjoy this novel. The author has constructed her version of Abelard and Heloise from a vast array of letters and historical documents available to researchers and enthusiasts. The world of 12th century Paris is also skillfully recreated by the author and was such a pleasure to read. Through lenses of love and desire the culture and social issues of the time are examined, revealing gender inequalities and double-standards that are still, strangely (or predictably) enough, prevalent in today’s society.
The author’s writing is passionate, lyrical, and poetic. Jones has composed a literary love ballad about two historical personalities that challenged the conventions of their time, and risked everything TO DO WHAT THEY WANTED.
If you are a fan of female historical figures such as Joan of Arc, Hildegard von Bingen, or Eleanore of Aquitaine, I think Sherry Jones’ ballad of Heloise and Abelard deserves a spot on your TBR list.
Here’s a great What You Missed in History Class podcast about Heloise and Abelard to check out to learn more about them and the culture that shaped their love story.
And Just for FUN:
The magnificent Magdalena Kozena’s album, Lettere Amorose, is a collection of 17th century Italian Baroque ”love letters” that is worth listening to on its own, but made the perfect soundtrack for reading this novel. While the music featured on this album is not from the 12th century, it still has the feel of Heloise and Abelard’s story. I used it as my reading soundtrack because Jones’ novel uses the real correspondences of H & A to construct her story, and this lovely album plays up that theme.