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March 3, 2022


#ReadingIreland22 Abelard and Heloise

by NancyElin



23. Peter Abelard by Helen Waddell by Helen Waddell Helen Waddell

Finish date: March 03 2022
Genre: Novel (210 pg…almost a novella)
Rating: F
Review: Peter Abelard (ISBN: 978-0343274122)

Bad news: Ms Waddell was a well known writer in Ireland and her book Peter Abelard was a best-seller. I think one must remember the time when this book was published 1933. It was a ground-breaking and shocking description of the lust/love between Heloise and Abelard. The book quietly circulated among convent schooled girls and women longing for a passionate love story. The book was considered explicit. Unfortunately…times have changed. Peter Abelard has fallen between the cracks….for a reason.

Bad news: First lesson in writing…draw the reader in….create a hook. Well, I read chapter 1 but I felt nothing…a word salad without the dressing! It must be me…so I re-read ch 1.

Bad news: The reader is thrown into ‘the unknown’ in chapter 1. It took me so much time to finally figure out who’s who…and what’s what? Where are we actually? If I wasn’t determined to finish this book…I would have stopped after the first pages. The style is too coldly academic to allow the characters to escape from the words and become living breathing beings.

Abelard (1079–1142) is now 37 yr (start book 1116) – around 1115, he became master of the cathedral school of Notre-Dame.
William of Champeaux – was Abelard’s teacher- Abelard challenged some of his ideas, and William thought Abelard was too arrogant.
Goswin (1085-1165 ) (classmate of Abelard at St Genevieve school)
Guibert – Abelard’s servant for the last 20 years
Gilles – canon (member religious community) at ND School
Gerbert – elected to succeed Gregory V as pope in 999. Gerbert took the name of Sylvester II.
Denise – Abelard’s sister

Well, now you can start chapter 1 of this book…without all the work I had to put into it!

Good news: Best thing I can think of….finished the book for #ReadingIrelandMonth22. Now time to read something completely different…no more historical fiction for me.

Personal: I took a chance on Helen Waddell and did not win the prize. In the biography of Patrick Kavanah I learned that Ms Waddell was a well respected writer in her day. Alas, NOT my style of writing but I was determined to see how Ms Waddell writes this classic love story. Well, a yule log burning on your TV screen gives off more heat! If you are a dye in the wool historical fiction reader and want to feel how the first writers approached the genre…then read the book. This is an example of a very educated medieval scholar who thinks she’s a novelist…it just did not work out for me.

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7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Oh is it reading Ireland month already, thanks for that, I’ll be sure to avoid this one though! I have a collection of essays I’m looking forward to The Passenger, I shall start it today!

    • Mar 3 2022

      Wonderful…celebrate Irish literature!!

      • I’ve just combed the shelves and made a pile to mood read from, a couple of enticing nonfiction books too, thin places and saltwater in the blood, plus moey Brian Moore

      • Oops, as I was saying… Plus more Brain Moore (after last year’s year long BrianMoore100 Read along) and a few Mary Costello novels.

  2. Mar 3 2022

    It is amazing…if you just comb the bookshelves what Irish themed books you can find. I stumbled on the complete works of Oscar Wilde that I bought 30 years ago! Still a lot to read in it! I have a huge book of short stories by William Trevor…but I’ll save them for later in the month when I’m running out fo “gas”…and need a Irish re-fill! #ErinGoBragh (Ireland Forever!)

  3. Mar 3 2022

    Thanks Nancy, sorry this one didn’t work for you.

    • Mar 3 2022

      Ms Waddell was a sort of “influencer’ in her day taking interest in helping writers like Patrick Kavanagh. It’s just her writing (excluding her scholarly medieval studies)…was not what I would say a interesting in this day and age. I gave her a chance…not just reading the moderns! Again, thanks for hosting again this year!


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