The Saint of Florenville: A Love Story

The Saint of Florenville: A Love Story

by Alfred J. Garrotto


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A Roman Catholic nun, Mother Marie-Thérèse, is the surviving victim of one of Belgium's most notorious crimes, involving kidnap, torture, and murder. It all took place in enchanting, picturesque Bruges, Belgium, the Venice of the North. Her co-victim, an American priest, Father Thomas Jensen, did not survive. Although his body was never found, Piet Van Kampen confessed to killing the priest, for which he received a life sentence without parole. Twenty years later, on the day after the convicted killer's death, journalist Célèste De Smet draws a career-making assignment, an exclusive, first-ever interview with the nun. Reeling from the day-old breakup of a long-term relationship, Célèste arrives at the motherhouse of the Servant Sisters of Jesus and Mary in Florenville, a town in Southeastern Belgium. She expects to spend an afternoon with the nun and be on her way back to the capital. Mother Marie-Therese (Tesse) has a different plan. She bargains with Celeste for an exchange of life experiences, the reporter's for hers-in that order. Caught off-guard by this unexpected request and a possible delay in her return to Brussels, Célèste weighs her options. She chooses the interview's career potential over her reluctance to open her life to this stranger.Thus begins a cycle of deeply personal revelations that will occupy the two women for several days. Célèste outlines her youth and upbringing, including a secret vow made to God and broken. In return, Tesse responds to the reporter's opening query, how she and Fr. Jensen happened to be in Bruges together on the day of the kidnapping. Tesse then gets Célèste to discuss an unresolved adolescent trauma. The reporter has carried the guilt and shame of being responsible for her missionary priest-uncle's leaving the active ministry and marrying an African woman who was pregnant with his child. Célèste has never spoken of what she considered triggering incidents that occurred when the priest was visiting the De Smet family. In return, Tesse relates details of her and Tom's captivity, including repeated druggings and physical abuse. Sensing that Célèste has yet another secret to tell, Tesse coaxes her to share it, using as bait the promise to reveal the one final piece of her own Tesse-and-Tom story. Unable to resist, Célèste agrees. But she is unprepared for the shock of Tesse's final revelation. Having received the information, the reporter fears that curiosity might have involved her in an ongoing crime that could cause her to lose everything.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781466334045
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 09/16/2011
Pages: 234
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.49(d)

About the Author

Alfred J. Garrotto lives and writes in the San Francisco (California) Bay Area. The Saint of Florenville is his 6th novel and 10th book. A 16-yr. member of the historic California Writers Club, he has served two terms as branch president and currently sits on the advisory board of directors. He also serves as a lay minister specializing in adult faith formation in a vibrant Roman Catholic parish.

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