The Confessions of X: A Novel: an old woman sits beside a fountain in the courtyard of the local bishop, who is lying on his death bed. At the gates of the city—a provincial outpost of the Roman Empire in Africa Province—the Vandals have laid siege and are threatening to lay waste the land. It is the fifth century A.D. and the woman, from the city of Carthage in Africa Province, her name unknown to history, begins the story of her life: how she was raised by her father, a master mosaic craftsman, and how as a young woman living in Carthage she met and fell in love with a brilliant orator named Augustine. In time she becomes his concubine and bears him a son, Adeodatus. She becomes a companion along Augustine’s anguished spiritual journey from a secretive religious cult to the Christian faith. She supports his work as an orator and teacher of rhetoric, following him to Italy, where he seeks advancement within the imperial court of the Roman Empire. This woman is forced to make an agonizing decision, to choose between her own happiness or the happiness of the man she loves. Her choice propels her on an odyssey that will take her through desolation and loss toward moments of unexpected grace and joy.
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