For fans of The Birth of Venus, Girl with a Pearl Earring, and The Other Boleyn Girl, Amy Hassinger, author of Nina: Adolescence, delivers this historically lush, lyrical and thoroughly enthralling novel about the forbidden love between a woman and a holy man, and about the moral and spiritual struggles of faith.
In 1896, the priest in a small village in southern France suddenly came into possession of immense wealth. This much is true. What no one knows for sure is where his money came from. The history of the region suggests that he may have stumbled upon clues to a hidden treasure of the Knights Templar. An even more tantalizing possibility is that he discovered coded documents hidden in the structure of his church, documents so threatening to the Catholic Church that he was paid to keep silent. At his death under mysterious circumstances in 1917, his secrets died with him.
Yet there is one other person who may have known all--Marie Dernanaud, the priest’s housekeeper and, some say, his lover. Interweaving the history of France at the turn of the twentieth century, scenes of ancient Judea, and the romantic and religious journey of a spirited and intense heroine, The Priest’s Madonna gives Marie a chance to tell her version of what transpired—as well as her own story of belief, doubt, and illicit passions.
Amy Hassinger was born in Newton, MA, and graduated from Barnard College and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where she received her MFA in fiction writing. She is the author of two novels. Deemed "superb" by O, the Oprah Magazine and "truly penetrating" by Salon.com, Nina: Adolescence has been translated into Dutch and Portuguese and was named a semi-finalist for the 2005 Julia Peterkin Award. Her stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Arts and Letters, Natural Bridge, and Blithe House Quarterly Online, and have been anthologized in Best Lesbian Love Stories. Publishing houses in Holland, Spain, and Indonesia have purchased the foreign rights to The Priest's Madonna. She is also the author of Finding Katahdin: An Exploration of Maine's Past. She's taught English to middle school students, and writing and literature to undergraduates, and is currently on the faculty of the University of Nebraska's MFA in Writing Program. She lives in Urbana, Illinois with her husband and daughter.
Anna Fields has been a professional narrator for nearly a decade, lending her voice to over 200 audiobooks. She has been honored with numerous Audie Awards and Earphones Awards. Living in Seattle, she owns Cedar House Audio, an audiobook production company. Anna Fields is the narrating names for Kate Fleming. She chose this name to honor her great-grandmother, an actress at the turn of the 20th century.
Library Journal (starred review)
"Hassinger's novel is marvelously written and well researched. She weaves together a story of France at the turn of the 20th century with that of Mary Magdalene to create a rich fabric of love, mystery, anguish, and faith. Highly recommended."
"A historical romance that mixes literary heft and pop-fiction indulgence..."
"Absorbing historical fiction... Hassinger brings historical characters to life in this vivid and affecting account of love and faith."
Curtis Sittenfeld, author of Prep
"The Priest's Madonna is an ambitious, absorbing novel, both impressively researched and deftly written. In Marie, Amy Hassinger has created an endearingly contradictory protagonist -- naive and intelligent, submissive and rebellious -- who tells a suspenseful story of love and religion."
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