They feature in lists of the world's most famous lovers ... Heloise D'Argenteuil and Peter Abelard. Springing from 12th century France, theirs was also a meeting of the minds, Abelard being a philosopher and theologian and Heloise, his student. Their relationship with its many challenges plays out against the backdrop of the religious reforms and political intrigues of the early Middle Ages.
Anchored by extensive research and enriched with input from classic and medieval philosophers, this novel incorporates the characters' own writing to produce a fascinating and passionate retelling of the love story of this real-life legendary couple.
Not many of the group would have chosen to read this, but we found it very thought-provoking and interesting. A good chance to appreciate a lot of the freedoms we have today...
A difficult read for most. Big discussion about women's rights and the treatment of women in the past.
Life for women in this era was very hard and limited - we are very pleased we live in the 21st century (in N.Z!). Very different times with religious control and political control from the Crown.
Heloise certainly immersed our book group in the life of a 12th century nun and the hardships of the time, especially the plight of women. We all enjoyed it even though there was a lot of reading.
Most thought this a very worthwhile read.
Overall our group really liked the book (some didn't finish it but, at the other end of the spectrum, some of us loved it). A really interesting and sobering insight into women's lot in life almost 1000 years ago. We all agreed that men, and the church, had all-empowering control over women. We weren't completely sure if Abelard really loved Heloise or whether she was under his control.
What a wonderful story written by a NZ author, and set in France. An eye-opener for Church influence and women's lives in the 12th century.
Very well researched. The writings of Heloise and Abelard are matched superbly with the story. The author has done an amazing job of her research; the bibliography reads like a bookshelf! The author moved from the pieces of history which she could research and retell in such interesting detail, but cleverly glossed over the missing years. Thoroughly enjoyable history lesson.
This book is well-written and informative. The discussion of philosophy and theology is very interesting and engaging, giving a good insight into the 12th century. However, the imagined details and minor events, such as the rape, sex scenes and dialogues seemed to most of the group to be superfluous, and to detract somehow from the meticulous research.
Everyone thoroughly enjoyed reading this, although it took a little while to get into it. We are all so glad we don't live in those early times as women were treated very badly. The book told us about true love.
Interesting history wise, but most of our group skimmed over the poetry, found it hard to get into and ending was disappointing. Overall a very good discussion though.
We all thought this book was great on many fronts. Very well researched, beautifully written, seamless weaving of original information and text with fictional fill in. Great discussion on all of the above as well as many comparisons of social roles and opportunities for women today.
Most group members really enjoyed this book, although one member got a bit lost with all the characters, despite the excellent appendix. It was a good mix of romance, history and biography and well-written. A good snapshot of the early 12th century and the power of the church and a woman's place in society, with parallels to today.
Those members who read and finished the book really loved the story, the history and the beautiful literary writing. Some members didn't finish the book because they didn't like the style.