A profoundly thought-provoking, moving novel that breathes fresh life into one of history's most remarkable and enduring love stories.
A classic love story, retold for our times.
Heloise, a young scholar reputed to be the cleverest woman in 12th-century France, arrives in Paris set on entering the city's masculine world of learning. Frustrated in her wishes, she is stunned when the brilliant, radical philosopher, Peter Abelard, consents to be her tutor in exchange for lodgings with her uncle. But what starts out as a meeting of minds turns into a passionate, dangerous love affair, which sends shockwaves throughout the country and incurs terrible retribution.
Nine centuries later, Arthur, an English academic, is in Paris attempting to recreate Heloise and Abelard's story in a novel. When his daughter Julia comes to visit, she agrees to help, interrogating his portraits of a couple who seem often inscrutable, sometimes strikingly modern. As she spars with her father, it becomes evident that Julia is on her own quest is to discover more about her parents' fractured relationship - and that Arthur's connection to his subject is more emotional than he cares to admit.
In this profoundly thought-provoking, moving novel, Melvyn Bragg brings the 12th-century into the 21st as he breathes fresh life into one of history's most remarkable and enduring love stories.
Bragg brilliantly re-imagines the legendary love story of Heloise and Abelard, uniting the middle ages and today in this thrilling novel. - Antonia Fraser
Melvyn Bragg brings a fascinated attention to the moral complexities of a love story we all thought we knew, but perhaps did not understand well enough. His compassion for Abelard and Heloise makes brilliantly real and present to us their anguished journey from erotic excess towards the mystical sublime. - Rose Tremain
A tour de force - a moving, poignant, compelling tale, wonderfully told. I have never read such true and compellingly depicted accounts of sexual desire and encounter, and Paris, both medieval and modern, comes vividly before one. - A.C. Grayling
Bragg has mastered his sources, chiefly the letters of Abelard and Heloise and Abelard's autobiographical
Historia Calamitaturn. By the pen of Arthur the novelist, Bragg with his own flair and perceptive imagination tells their story . . . Bragg's ability to live inside the minds of these two mighty philosophical and theological intellectuals. He understands their agonies, their manipulation . . . and persecution . . . Bragg writes his version of this life-long love with ease and confidence. It is a pleasure to read; and to be reminded of Chaucer's fastidious Prioress whose shining gold brooch declares: "Amor vincit omnia." - Spectator
Melvyn Bragg is a writer and broadcaster whose first novel, For Want of a Nail, was published in 1965. His novels since include The Maid of Buttermere, The Soldier's Return, Credo and Now is the Time, which won the Parliamentary Book Award for fiction in 2016. His books have also been awarded the Time/Life Silver Pen Award, the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and the WHSmith Literary Award, and have been longlisted three times for the Booker Prize (including the Lost Man Booker Prize).
He has also written several works of non-fiction, including The Adventure of English and The Book of Books about the King James Bible. He lives in London and Cumbria.