"Save the Women"Caught in a sudden storm and weakened by fasting, Robert of Arbrissel hears these simple words and begins preaching in brothels. But it is not his words or his seductive voice as much as his glowing halo that encourages Madeleine, an emotionally damaged prostitute who sees the world through a distracted lens of color and sound, to join him. Robert gathers followers and the reputation of sainthood, but he knows that his thoughts about Madeleine are not worthy of a holy man. Girard, a monk obsessed with food, finds following Robert only mires him more deeply in his own bottomless needs. Lady Philippa, Duchess of Aquitaine and Countess of Toulouse, first helps Robert’s cause with a gift of land to build his vision of an abbey but later seeks refuge there herself.
Set in early twelfth-century France, and based on historical events, A Place of Light reverberates with violence and beauty, with the parallel realities of prostitution and aristocratic marriage, the harsh aftermath of recent Viking invasions, and the intimate instruction of storytelling. Within that tumultuous world, four flawed souls, with their eccentricities and their passions, their painful vulnerabilities and their good intentions, their conflicted impulses and desires, help to build the Abbey of Fontevraud while searching for their own place of light.
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Kim Silveira Wolterbeek teaches literature and writing at Foothill College in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her fiction has appeared in numerous periodicals, including Buffalo Spree, CALYX, City Primeval: Narratives of Urban Reality, New Millennium Writings, Other Voices, Ratapallax, Room of One's Own, Santa Clara Review, 5Trope, West, Wind Review, Willow Spring, and in A Line of Cutting Women (CALYX). She is the author of The Glass Museum (Bellowing Ark Press).