Tuesday, October 8, 2019

"Necessary Sins" a novel by Elizabeth Bell

In antebellum Charleston, a Catholic priest grapples with doubt, his family's secret African ancestry, and his love for a slave owner's wife.

Joseph Lazare and his two sisters grow up believing their black hair and olive skin come from a Spanish grandmother—until the summer they learn she was an African slave. While his sisters make very different choices, Joseph struggles to transcend the flesh by becoming a celibate priest.

Then young Father Joseph meets Tessa Conley, a devout Irish immigrant who shares his passions for music and botany. Joseph must conceal his true feelings as Tessa marries another man—a plantation owner who treats her like property. Acting on their love for each other will ruin Joseph and Tessa in this world and damn them in the next.

My thoughts:
I did not deserve this novel! This gem of historical and psychological authenticity left me speechless and humbled. I started following the author pre-publication posts and had high expectations for this novel, and the final product exceeded my expectations tenfold. It does not have any of those formulaic "crowd pleaser" elements that you find in most novels published by the Big Six. There are more massacre scenes than love scenes. Three worlds, three major geographic locations are involved: the island of Hispanola, Europe and the American south. The main character, Joseph Lazarre, is a cultural and spiritual product of those three locations. Born in Charleston, tracing his roots to the Caribbean, educated in Europe, he is both determined and conflicted. Ironically, it is the secrets surrounding his ancestry that set him on the path of ultimate truth. Sometimes you have to harbor lies to be a truly honest man. Sometimes you have to sin to understand holiness. He must overcome a few prejudices and break a few vows to become a true man of God. 

1 comment:

  1. I love this review so much - thank you for taking the time to write it!