The Convert By Stefan Hertmans
Reviewed by Barry Mutter
This is a story about an eleventh century noblewoman who as a young woman chose to leave her comfortable life and follow her heart. She chose love over status. She chose the life of a fugitive over the life of prestige. Her love for a man tore her from her God and her people. This is also a story about a twenty-first century author obsessed with the mystery of a medieval girl who converted from Christianity to Judaism and suffered the perils of that decision. Both characters, Medieval and Modern, paid a price for their obsession.
The book is brilliantly written. It moves back and forth in time and captures the reader with each move. The story is a love story and a tragedy. You cannot read this book without suffering an overwhelming emotional connection to a young mother on the run. Her courage, her resilience, her maternal instincts draw her, and the reader, further into a life fraught with danger and violence. This is a true story. Through diligent research, and a contemporary trip replicating the journey of the young Norman Jewess, Stefan Hertmans reimagines her life. This book will have an impact on you.
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