Friday, November 15, 2019

Love Without End by Melvyn Bragg, a multi-period novel exploring Heloise and Abelard's 12th-century love story - plus giveaway

The love story of the brilliant scholar Heloise and her tutor, the celebrity philosopher Peter Abelard, is remembered for its passion, tragedy, and sacrifice. Today, though, some aspects of their relationship can seem inexplicable. Why, for example, did their marriage have to be secret, and why did both feel obliged to take religious vows?

In his psychologically penetrating and touching novel, Bragg addresses these questions, and others, by placing the lovers into their socioreligious context of twelfth-century France and by weaving in a modern thread. While composing a novel about the medieval couple, a historian named Arthur explains his writing choices to his twentysomething daughter, Julia, while leading up to a big reveal about why he left her mother.

Neither present-day character is fully fleshed out; they mainly exist to provide a running commentary on Abelard and Heloise’s decisions. However, the historical portions, steeped in the philosophies of the age, take readers deep into the characters’ minds as the pair fall in love, endure Heloise’s uncle’s wrath and betrayal, and live separate yet emotionally connected lives thereafter.

Love Without End is published by Arcade this month in the US (it was previously published in the UK by Sceptre). I wrote this review for Booklist's 10/15/19 issue and subsequently received a hardcover copy of the book in the mail. Interested in reading it for yourself?  Please fill out the form below to enter the giveaway.  One response per household, please; void where prohibited.  Deadline Friday, November 22nd.  Good luck!


11/23/19: The giveaway is over.  Congratulations to Vivienne S., and hope you'll enjoy the read! Thanks to all who entered.


  1. Anonymous4:51 PM

    I've noticed that the "contemporary" storyline isn't always fleshed out - better to leave it out?

    Sarah OL

  2. In this case, yes, better to leave it out. Arthur and Julia are really just talking heads, and I don't think their last names are even included. Spending time in 12th-century France was much more interesting.

  3. Thank you for the review and the giveaway.