NICAEA: A Book of Correspondences

Martin Rowe, Author . Lindisfarne $19.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-58420-020-8

In this elliptical work of religious-historical fiction, Rowe pays lyrical tribute to the ancient Turkish town of Iznik, once the Roman city of Nicaea, where the Nicene Creed was written. We first arrive in present-day Iznik with Adam, who's come to the fabled city seeking God and romantic love; with him is his beloved Marianne, and the middle-aged lovers attempt to rekindle their passion after 20 years apart. Rowe then moves centuries back in time to ancient Nicaea, with several chapters of correspondence between figures of the early Christian Church—Eusebius, Arius and Athanasius—who discuss the nature of the Holy Trinity. Rowe also introduces Constantine's Empress Eirene as she awaits her execution, a Scheherazade-like serving girl who spins tales for the sultan and a cook who tries to evade death by taking refuge in a deep hole. Though the chapters are linked by the Nicaea setting and religious overtones, Rowe's approach, focusing less on Adam and Marianne's modern-day love story than on the past, results in a book that reads less like a novel than a finely wrought collection of short stories. Rowe's prose is fluid and eloquent, but the constant shifts in era and story can make following the narrative a challenge. Yet this is an impressive fiction debut, and readers interested in early Christian history will find much food for thought here. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 08/11/2003
Release date: 00/00/0000
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