[Reviewed by Bruce Roberts]
Imagine the most horrific treatment one human being could inflict upon another. Then skew the moral compass even farther from the norm by having the victims be a nun and a priest. This is the springboard situation on which Alfred J. Garrotto’s novel, The Saint of Florenville, a love story,” is based. And in spite of the horror, the book–as the title suggests—really is a love story.
The horror in this book comes through flashback, occasioned by the death in prison of the monster who committed the crimes—even killing Father Jensen, the priest. A young Brussells reporter, Celeste de Smet, has been assigned to write a story about this notorious twenty year old crime. To this end, she travels to Florenville, Belgium, to interview Mother Superior Marie Therese of the Servant Sisters of Mary and Joseph, now the only survivor of this terrifying event. And this is where the actual plot takes off.
Celeste is young, in her twenties. Heading away from home to get her story, she has little idea what to expect. The daunting concept of a Mother Superior, of nuns in general, of life in a convent, of the victim of a terrible crime—all of this leaves her apprehensive. But when she meets Tess—as Sister Marie Therese says to call her—she must stop and reevaluate. “Her high forehead and prominent cheekbones promised intelligence. Gray eyes, gentle and wise, invited trust. . . . A hint of dimple at the corners of her mouth created the gateway to a ready smile. I sensed I was in the presence of a woman who had come to terms with any demons from her past.” (p. 32)
Bruce Roberts is a poet and ongoing contributor to Synchronized Chaos Magazine. Roberts may be reached by at email@example.com.