The Sharp Hook of Love

Published:  03:00 AM, 14 February 2023

A Tragic Tale of Classical Romance

A Tragic Tale of Classical Romance
Yasir Monon

In terms of love stories, The Sharp Hook of Love deserves an intensive perusal. The book tells an engrossing story about the 12th century love affair between Heloise, an eminent female French scholar of that time and Pierre Abelard, one of the leading philosophers of France of the same period. It's a tale decked with the lovers' passion and the perilous experiences they confronted while proceeding through the labyrinth of love. The novel highlights the romantic confluence of two great minds that has been remembered by French historians for hundreds of years and has been once again resurrected by Sherry Jones, the author of The Sharp Hook of Love.

A noteworthy feature of the book is each chapter begins with an extract from the letters exchanged between Heloise and Abelard which enables the author to knit her protagonists' own words to drive forward the plot of the novel. The quoted lines from those lost love letters reflect the author's knack for regenerating the ingenuity of love that prevailed during the age of classicism. Moreover, the quoted lines from those letters add an epistolary flavor to the novel.

The title of the novel is borrowed from a letter from Heloise to Abelard in which she wrote that she had been "pierced by the sharp hook of love." These words from Heloise remind us of what Kahlil Gibran, the finest ever Lebanese poet said about love in his magnum opus The Prophet, "For even as love crowns you, so shall he crucify you." Love is an eternal double-bind with the power to hurt as well as to heal the hearts of those who fall in love. It's a blend of tender and stony sentiments. It may lead people to the peak of ecstasy or to the abyss of woes. The tragic end of the story of romance and trysts that went on between Heloise and Abelard are persuasive enough to serve as an evidence of the above line from Kahlil Gibran.
Details are very important in historic novels. It has to be a superbly balanced synthesis of facts and fiction to impress the readers. For example, in A Tale of Two Cities and Les Miserables, two literary masterpieces by Charles Dickens and Victor Hugo respectively, we find moving love stories fictionalized on the basis of solid facts linked with the French Revolution. Both Charles Dickens and Victor Hugo were very much aware that being too fictitious may overshadow the factual aspects of their stories and the other way round. Moreover, love stories are tough things to work on because it is at times intriguing for writers to illustrate emotions in a convincing way without being too sentimental. Sherry Jones seems to have taken care of these points very neatly in her novel The Sharp Hook of Love.

Heloise and Abelard were not left alone by the adversities of the patriarch and theocratic society that prevailed in France during 12th century. The rigid tenets of conservative societies have all along persecuted lovers since the beginning of civilization. In this context it may be alluded that The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Broken Wings by Kahlil Gibran, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte and Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare tell pathetic love stories that failed to obtain recognition from the custodians of respective communities. Simultaneously these novels, like The Sharp Hook of Love, portray the virtually handcuffed plight of women under male-dominated circumstances. Heloise in The Sharp Hook of Love may be juxtaposed with Catherine and Isabella in Wuthering Heights, with Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter and Selma in The Broken Wings because all these women met painful and dolorous consequences sparked off by their unrecognized romance. Male-dominated societies have clamped down austere rules and obligations on women's liberty throughout the history of bygone days and it's a glaring piece of reality even in today's world as well.

Despite all the hostilities posed by the enforced superiority of men, women will keep on loving their soul-mates and the stories about brave and devoted lovers like Heloise, Catherine and Selma will continue to entice readers all the way ahead. Love is not just a kind of passion; it emboldens the spirits of those who love their beloveds selflessly. Love is a divine balsam. It can heal wounds which are never to be cured by medicated potions. Lovers die, but love is imperishable and always lies beyond the claws of oblivion. Sherry Jones's The Sharp Hook of Love extends this message to the readers through her mind-blowing rhetoric and the story of the novel stands out as a testimony to the perpetual power of love that existed in the past and still gloriously holds its head high. Love is a symbol of eternity. And perhaps that's why Sherry Jones has reincarnated the timeless romance between Heloise and Abelard through her novel The Sharp Hook of Love.

Yasir Monon teaches
English literature in Fareast International University.

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