Heretics: A Love Story
by Mary Saracino
Only kindness can free a heart held hostage by hate.
Original trade paperback 282 pp $18.95 ISBN: 9781597190732 | Ebook $6.99 ISBN: 9781597190749
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About the author | Author’s website | Also by Mary Saracino: The Singing of Swans
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In the 1480s, twin sister healers in a remote village in the mountainous Barbagia region of Sardinia encounter a heretic-obsessed Spanish priest.
Antonio Albóndiga is sent to Sardinia after mishaps in his homeland, and is eventually banished to the village of Orune. Half the villagers—including Sarda and Shardana—follow a pre-Christian religion, while the other half observe a makeshift version of Catholicism and paganism.
Hate holds the priest’s heart hostage, and he scorns Sarda and Shardana’s adherence to ancient ways. Despite their suspicions, the healers and their village attempt not only to accept the stranger but to transform him.
Praise for Heretics: A Love Story
“Saracino blends the research of an anthropologist with a gift for story-telling,
rendering a sort of ethnographic fiction. The foundation of culture, topography,
flora and fauna, and linguistic details is firmly based on fact but vividly realized
in a story so beautifully and poetically written that the scholarship and data
are effortlessly ingested, threaded through the book’s pages so naturally
that the reader is caught up in the fictive moment as if surrounded by the wild mountains
and centuries old holme oaks. Through her scrupulous research, Saracino brings to life
a village of shepherds, basket makers, and deeply knowledgeable and intuitive
folk healers….Saracino creates credible, fully fleshed characters,
redolent of shepherd cottages, unleavened bread, pungent pecorino cheeses,
native distilled spirits, honey, wild flowers, and mountain air….
The subtitle of the book, ” a love story,” creates ambiguity as to the nature of that romance
and which characters might be parties. This is no formula romance novel.
Saracino’s book is not a formula anything, not purely a historical fiction,
definitely not a bodice ripper of the romance genre.
Neither is it purely enthnography or historicity. She creates a full blown, credible reality….
What this reader found most amazing is that a healing may occur
merely from reading the descriptions of time spent in the forests and amidst the vegetation,
and from the depiction of tolerance for the unfolding of human behaviors.”
Return to Mago
“Thank you for writing this book.
I see myself in its pages, as an herbalist, as a naturalist, as a tree lover, as a feminist,
as a ritual artist…I don’t know what motivated you to write this wonderful story,
but as a person who has been engaged in Earth-based ritual for 30 years
I am struck by the authenticity of this tale…Folks that live so close to the Earth
and her seasonal rounds do develop a different way of being in the world
and your story embodies that way of being as ‘truth’…[W]e don’t say the world is alive,
we live it…tuned into plants that communicate in a myriad of different ways…
animals that enter our fields and respond to our thoughts of them…
the closer to the Earth we choose to live the more efficiently she communicates with us…
This is a stupendous book…Hope is harbored in our bodies,
and I loved seeing that in words because our tendency to split away from our bodies
that are suffering not only our own traumas but that of the Earth’s…
and until we get this we will be separated again and again from hope as a reality…
I loved the way you created space for grief!
Your characters are so real.
I do not want to finish this book.”
emails to author
“This engaging and beautifully written novel made me want to ditch my current busy life
for the simplicity and connectedness of life in Orune, Sardinia.
I loved how she deftly described the nuances of each of the major players in this inspiring and compelling story.
What a perfect description of how love, compassion and collaboration can heal the deepest of wounds.
And I want to find an oak tree of my own…”
online reader review
“Heretics: A Love Story belongs in the highest echelon of classic literary fiction insofar as it educates
and enlightens while entertaining the reader….Mary Saracino combines acute psychological acumen
with extensive knowledge of history to create a novel that will engross your mind,
grip your heart and inspire your soul.”
Sandra Shwayder Sanchez
author of The Secret of a Long Journey
“Heretics: A Love Story reminds me of Grazia DeLedda’s Canne al Vento,
a book by the Sardinian Nobel Prize winner who first brought the Barbagia to the world’s attention in 1926.
The stellar aspect of Saracino’s novel is that she incorporates all the Afrocentrist research
that is no longer able to be suppressed. This is an enormous enterprise
to which this novel makes a great contribution because it is so well-written.
Saracino has managed to put into a compelling story what she learned firsthand
when she traveled to Sardinia in 2004—and she has supported that with a mountain of research!
Her psychological acuity makes the characters come alive.
This novel is the best attempt that comes to mind of weaving together
both scholarship and story writing.”
Lucia Chiavola Birnbaum, Ph.D.
Professor Emerita, The California Institute of Integral Studies
author of The Future Has an Ancient Heart: Legacy of Caring, Sharing, Healing and Vision from the Primordial African Mediterranean to Occupy Everywhere
& Dark Mother: African Origins & Godmothers