I recently read Fire of Love: A Historical Novel about St. John of the Cross and of course today being St. John of the Cross’ feast day it is perfect to provide a review.
This is not a historical novel along the lines of for example something from Louis De Wohl. For the most part fictional dialog is kept to a minimum and it seems apparent to me that much information was culled from the source documents of interviews conducted for St. John of the Cross’ cause. So what you end up with is a very good biography that reads like a novel.
I thought I knew a good deal about this great saint and Doctor of the Church, but I learned a great deal I did not know about his background and family. One aspect I really liked is that the book starts with the courtship of Juan de Yepes Álvarez parents. You rarely see this in biographies of the saints, except perhaps in the case of St. Therese. Like St. Therese Juan’s parents followed the path of holiness and the story of how they got together is quite endearing and seems more like a plot of a romantic novel. The story of a man from a well-to-do family who falls in love with a peasant women and marries her despite being cast off from the family is the stuff of legends and in this case the stuff of reality. The tragedy of his father dying fairly young introduces the other people in his life that had an effect on him. There is a lot of background information on his youth.
I also really enjoyed the information regarding his brothers who were also positive examples of the Catholic life fully lived. The aspects of the story involving St. Teresa of Avila and his later imprisonment and subsequent life I already well knew. This book though put this all into a context that made that information much richer and more alive. I thoroughly enjoyed the telling of the story as done by Jose Luis Olaizola.
I listened to the audiobook version which once again was done by the talented Kevin O’Brien. Though this is a more straight ahead performance of his narrative skills being that there was limited opportunity for character voices.
Fire of Love – Electronic Book Download
Fire of Love – Paperback
* The audiobook version is not yet up at Ignatius Press.