The Sharp Hook of Love

The Sharp Hook of Love

by Sherry Jones

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781451684797
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication date: 10/07/2014
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 955,338
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Author and journalist Sherry Jones is best known for her international bestseller The Jewel of Medina. She is also the author of The Sword of Medina, Four Sisters, All Queens, The Sharp Hook of Love, and the novella White Heart. She lives in Spokane, WA, where, like Josephine Baker, she enjoys dancing, singing, eating, advocating for equality, and drinking champagne. Visit her online at AuthorSherryJones.com and at Facebook.com/SherryJonesFanpage.

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Sharp Hook of Love includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Introduction

The Sharp Hook of Love retells the story of Heloise and Abelard, twelfth-century Parisian lovers. Beautifully incorporating language from the real couple’s letters to each other, the novel traces the story of their romance as it blossoms from a meeting of the minds into a forbidden love affair. United by love even when pulled apart by families, friends, and society, Heloise and Abelard learn what it means to truly sacrifice one’s life for a beloved. As intimate as it is erotic, as devastating as it is beautiful, The Sharp Hook of Love teaches readers that true love can never be thwarted.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. “For nothing is under less control than the heart—having no power to command it we are forced to obey,”, writes the historical Heloise in a letter to Abelard. This quote is used by the author as an epigraph for the novel, and as such, it frames the story that ensues as one about control—or lack thereof. Who or what is in control in The Sharp Hook of Love? Who or what is out of control? Do any of the characters successfully disobey their heart?

2. Heloise, the narrator, begins her story by claiming, “I was born in silence” (ix). How does this statement act as an omen for what will occur in the novel? In addition to living a cloistered life, how else is Heloise silenced, literally and/or figuratively?

3. The idea of going home or of making a home is a central motif in the novel. For Heloise, the notion of “home” is not one of comfort but of fear and loneliness. That is, until she meets Abelard. What does the idea of “home” mean for each of the characters in the story? Do you think that Heloise and Abelard ever get home? Why or why not?

4. Discuss the role of women in The Sharp Hook of Love. How do women’s roles in twelfth-century Paris differ from today? How are they similar? How did Heloise break stereotypes for women in her day?

5. Does Heloise’s Uncle Fulbert have any redeeming qualities, or is he pure evil? Do you think his intentions for Heloise were pure of heart, or motivated by self-interest? Is it possible that his intentions could be both?

6. Revisit the scene beginning on page 44 when Heloise nearly drowns in the Seine. Do you think this moment acts as a hinge for their relationship, swinging it in the direction of a full-blown affair? Why do you think this particular moment allows Heloise to trust in Abelard? Without this experience, do you think that Heloise would have given in to her feelings? Why or why not?

7. Do you agree that the inescapability of destiny is a possible theme of The Sharp Hook of Love? Do all the characters fulfill their destiny? Consider Heloise, Abelard, Uncle Fulbert, Jean, and Agnes in your response.

8. On page 113, Heloise and Abelard consummate their love for one another when Abelard takes Heloise when she is asleep, “imbuing [her] with his breath.” How does this act, described as giving breath to Heloise, prefigure Abelard’s kiss to Heloise on his deathbed? What symbolism can you glean from this action of filling another with your breath? Explore this scene in relation to the idioms “the kiss of death” and “breath of life.”

9. In what ways are the characters in the novel motivated by self-interest? Do you think it’s fair to classify all of the characters as selfish, to some extent? Who might be the most selfish character, and why? Who might be the least?

10. “I pray that, someday, you will understand” (ix). These last words spoken to Heloise by her mother echo throughout the novel, haunting Heloise. Does Heloise come to understand, as her mother had hoped she would? What does Heloise mean when she says she has been “pierced by the sharp hook of love”? (334) 11. Is Heloise to blame for leaving her child to be raised by her in-laws? Do you think she makes the best possible decision, given the circumstances? Why or why not?

12. To varying degrees, Heloise and her mother both have trouble admitting the truth to their respective beloveds, Abelard and Robert. Why do you think they choose to keep their secrets to themselves? In the case of Heloise, would honesty have been the best policy with regard to the letter she wrote to her uncle that led to his attack on Abelard? Would Heloise have benefited from her mother’s honesty about her father and the reason for her abandonment?

13. Do you agree with the definition of love presented by Heloise on page 345: “To truly love, we must be willing to give of ourselves, even our very lives.” What does Heloise give up for her lover? What does Abelard give up? Do you think their sacrifices are equal? Why or why not?

14. “I lifted my hand to rub my eyes, and found my face wet with tears” (348), says Heloise near the end of the novel. What is the significance of this moment in the story? How does the inability to cry throughout most of the novel isolate Heloise or impact her relationships with others? What does it imply about her character—and the power of love—that she is finally able to cry as she watches Abelard leave the abbey?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. Heloise and Abelard’s love grows out of a shared love for classical literature, philosophy, and rhetoric. Without Heloise’s talent and interest in learning, the two might never have met. Explore some of the lover’s favorite texts, including Ovid’s Heroides (the text can be accessed here: http://www.theoi.com/Text/OvidHeroides1.html). Take turns reading part of this classic poem out loud to your book club. What similarities can you find between the lovers in Ovid’s poem and the main characters in The Sharp Hook of Love? Why do you think Heloise and Abelard were drawn to this poem? Do stories of star-crossed lovers ever feel out of date? Discuss contemporary examples of ill-fated lovers. What does the proliferation of these types of story say about the human condition?

2. On page 26, Heloise describes the game of elocution she plays with Abelard through their letter writing, a game that turns into a series of confessions about the depth of feeling the two share. There is something deeply intimate about the act of letter writing, and so often people are able to put into words what they cannot say face-to-face. Have each member of your book club write a letter to a real or imagined beloved. Over dinner, share with your group the experience of writing a letter. Have you written to someone you love before? How does putting something in to a letter differ from saying it out loud?

3. Have a movie night with your book club, watching a couple of versions of Romeo & Juliet (1997, 1968). Draw parallels between these films and The Sharp Hook of Love. How are Heloise and Abelard similar to Romeo and Juliet? How do they differ? In your opinion, which couple suffers more?

4. Read another Sherry Jones book with your book club, such as Four Sisters, All Queens, or The Jewel of Medina. What do her characters all have in common? How would you characterize Jones’s writing style? Pick your favorite scene in each book and share with your book club.

Customer Reviews

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The Sharp Hook of Love 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was lucky to be able to read an ARC of The Sharp Hook Of Love by Sherry Jones. This was the first book I have read by Sherry Jones but if this book is anything to go by it won't be my last. The Sharp Hook Of Love is the story of Heloise and Pierre Abelard. Brilliant scholars of their day, ill fated lovers whose passionate, evocative tale Jones brings magically alive. I was extremely interested in how Sherry Jones would write Heloise and Abelard's story. Being passionate about the medieval time frame I knew the basics about Heloise and Abelard's history, which has always intrigued me. I had hopes that this re-telling of such a famous couple would be a true reflection of the times in which they lived and loved. I was definitely not disappointed. Sherry Jones writes with a flowing prose that carries the reader back to the 12th century to walk the streets of Paris alongside Heloise and Abelard. Told with solid research and a wide cast of secondary characters, this book was one of those fabulous reads that for me was hard to put down. I especially liked that the author uses Heloise and Abelard's own letters to each other throughout the book. Jones use of these poignant, heartfelt letters really made this book special.  I was in tears at times as I read this book. When an author can evoke such strong emotion from me, I know for me that I have just read an utterly satisfying read. The Sharp Hook Of Love is going on my keeper shelf.
MsDollie More than 1 year ago
I was totally captivated ... not a single passage ... not even a single word that didn't leave me spellbound. Fast paced, lushly lyrical and deeply emotional. I could not put it down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Devine reading! Five stars! The Sharp Hook of Love had me from the first page to the very last. I was enthralled in the depth of passion, sadness, deception Heloise and Abelard had to go through in order to simply call what they had together "love", and yet they secretly brought a son into the world and hid him away. It amazes me that at this time in history, women had such little say in their lives. Practically none! I also at times felt angered at Abelard because I felt that he was so selfish and cared only about what he had between his legs instead of for what his actions created. I mean, how can you profess such heavenly love for the one you break to pieces? And did he ever give a moment's care about his son? Non! Never. Heloise gave all. Gave up everything in her life for his "songs". As wonderful a story as this was and kept me up reading deep into the morning hours, I doubt any woman would give up what she did for a few months of hot passion...
Mirella More than 1 year ago
The year is 1115 and the country is France. The protagonists are the famous Abelard and Heloise. Their legend is eternal and continues to fascinate in the world today. The back cover blurb uses words like intimate, erotic, devasting, beautiful, poignant, and passionate – and each and every one of these words is accurate. Most people are acquainted with Heloise and Abelard, but author Sherry Jones truly gives them life. Societal norms of the 12th century were highly stringent, and interwoven with Church law. From the moment the two lovers meet, their love is hopeless. Abelard must enter the church, and Heloise is destined for a convent. This tale of forbidden love is heart-wrenching at times, and I truly experienced the pain of their separation. Heloise’s patience with Abelard is incredible at times, but Abelard’s love for her is so strong, his main motive is to protect her. v The story moves at a fast pace, with plenty of conflict and tension to hold a reader’s interest. The historical facts seem well researched and are seamlessly interwoven in the plot. This is a lush story with wonderfully rich prose that evokes emotion. A wonderful book that is sure to please! 
indiereadergirl More than 1 year ago
All it takes is a “chance” meeting and serenade to ignite a love affair so fierce and passionate, it would inspire many forbidden tales of love centuries to come.  The Sharp Hook of Love tells the thought-provoking, captivating, heartbreaking, and intensely passionate story of world renowned eleventh century French philosopher Petrus “Pierre” Abelard  and his student,  Heliose d’ Argenteuil. Told achingly through Heloise’s point of view, the love affair begins slowly, until it morphs into a love so tragic it can’t be true. While erotic, passionate, and full of lust, something ever more devastating awaits the forbidden lovers. Each chapter beginning contains a brief passage from the lovers’ letters. While I enjoyed reading them, most of them were written by Heloise. I had a small problem with this mainly because I felt the reader is already getting one side of the story, why not have at least the chapter epigraphs be alternating, so the reader can get a full sense of the relationship. I did savory each one, though. All so achingly beautiful. Matched the chapters perfectly. I just wish I could have read Abelard’s love letters, or just letters more. Jones does a meticulous and wonderful job at incorporating parts of their letters into the narrative itself; which I found held me as a reader more. The voice of Heloise kept me interested; often taking me along with her. I felt her love, her pain, and her sorrows. Her journey from a young woman to where she ends in the story was written in such a cohesive way. I didn’t feel lost as the years skipped around a bit; I followed her through. What Jones accomplished, was making me want to be there for Heloise. Chastise her a little bit. Hold her when Abelard scorns her. Be there for her as no one really was for her. Not many authors can successfully do that in a novel, let alone a historical fiction one. I was completely moved. Then the juicy parts. Oh, the eroticism that was there! My, for the eleventh century, they knew how to express themselves. There is a significant amount of love making going on in this book; this is not the book for you if you cringe and want to pass pages– you will miss something if you do. I enjoyed how passionate the lovers were; but, not just that, I loved how it translated to the page. It wasn’t x-rated in the way that every detail was written. There was no, he moved her this way, then that way. Yes, it was descriptive. It was erotic, passionate, and very realistic. It was not overly explicit, it was not just thrown in there at random times, nor was it always pretty.  This love story is tragic.  I cried at the end. It was hard not to. Abelard says something to Heloise and my heart melted. There’s so much beauty and love in this story, yet the pain and, yes, brutality that occurs, somewhat taints it. It’s truly beautiful, no matter how devastating. I truly loved this novel. I hope that all the feelings were true. Pick this book up. You won’t regret it. It’s a love story that should be known and forever remembered. It’s a great example or discourse on what love was like back then, who was allowed to love, what the cost was, and what the reward was. Jones tackles the topic of societal norms and expectations of that era, without deterring from the lovers’ story.  I hope you take the time to enjoy this novel as I did. 
booknerdDS More than 1 year ago
Wow! I loved, loved, loved this book.  There was so much buzz around it before it was published I wondered if the hype would build of this book too much. I'm happy to say all the amazing reviews and comments I read are true.  This was such a heart-warming, passionate, beautiful story.  I have to say, one of the best I read this year.  I had never heard of Heloise  or Pierre.  Both Pierre were such fascinating characters.  Individually I loved learning about them! Together as a couple they weaved such a sweet and passionate story! I have to say this is one of my favorite books!  I could not put it down.  I added Sherry Jones' other books to my to-read pile!  Amazing author! Amazing story!
wordsandpeace More than 1 year ago
Brilliant retelling of the story of Heloise and Abelard VERDICT: Based on Heloise and Abelard’s letters and many other documents and studies, The Sharp Hook of Love reminds modern readers of the most famous Medieval couple, of their powerful love and their numerous obstacles to live it. Combining romance and elements of mystery, this is a must read to know more about how a brilliant European woman lived and fought in the Middle Ages. The book is full of important historical background. Apart from the romance, there’s even an element of mystery, about who Héloïse’s father was and why really her mother seemed to have abandoned her in an abbey at a young age.
unshelfish More than 1 year ago
MY THOUGHTS I was thrilled when offered the opportunity to participate in the book tour for The Sharp Hook of Love. Since I can remember Heloise and Abelard’s story has always painfully fascinated me. I was even more elated to learn Sherry Jones decided to write her interpretation of this celebrated couple (I was curious when a gifted author would take the leap). Heloise and Abelard, known for their love affair and for the tragedy separating them. In my opinion their love story is the most tragic in history. Both well educated, passion driving them towards each other, sadly, divided by Heloise’s uncles’s act of pure vengeance. Jones masterfully captures the brutality and humanness of their heart wrenching story through her melodic and poetic prose expounding on Heloise and Abelard’s actual correspondence as well as the intricacy of emotion seeping through both characters and narrative. You undoubtedly feel the infinite presence of a love so profound you will be rendered breathless. Despite the myriad of obstacles testing, intentions hell bent on destroying their love, these two forged on until vengeance played judge, jury and executioner on this resolute couple. Religion and political climate in a turbulent time period where men ruled the realm you know their love is doomed, nevertheless you are shocked by the extreme taken and nonplussed by their everlasting devotion even under the most dire of circumstances, these two scream love in its truest and purest form. Jones excelled in setting the ambiance, touching on the appropriate measure of political and religious dominance during this time. You are immersed in the climate enhancing the narrative completely. Sketching an elaborate characterization added to the pull towards both characters equally. Heloise, highly intelligent yet playing with fire in her uncle’s home. Innocent, naieve in regards to her uncle, yet driven by love when she solicits this evil doers assistance. She sacrifices more than any human should, endlessly gives for the cause, heartbreaking to witness. Abelard comes off as cocky, cavalier, however as their tale unfolds you realize this man is sacrificing all in the name of true love. He gives of himself and much more. Jones captures the devotion and love we all hope to find in this lifetime, at least I do by her unraveling of characters. The Sharp Hook of Love has been the best historical romance I have read this year, and I have been privileged to read quite an abundance of great books in 2014. Jones’ lyrical style, along with her brilliance to bring this memorable historical couple to life will leave you in awe – torturously pleasing, achingly beautiful. For those unfamiliar with Heloise and Abelard what a wonderful way to discover a story penned with talent and competency on Jones’ part, no doubt you are in for a real treat. Cannot recommend this tale of unfaltering love enough, bravo Sherry Jones.
MeteorFlower More than 1 year ago
The treatment this historical couple deserved! When I was offered an ARC of this book to review, I jumped on it.  I love the story of Abelard and Heloise! It’s tragic.  There is no happily ever after with this love story.  I remember reading the letters for a medieval literature class and it fascinated me then.  I knew that Sherry Jones had chosen a very complex story to bring to life.  I wanted to see what she had done. The Sharp Hook of Love blew me away!  Sherry Jones tackles the torrid love affair of Abelard and Heloise with an elegance that the story deserves:  The complexity, the emotional power and the borderline insanity.  It’s all there and not only is it there but it touches you deeply.  This part of history has been given life and even though I knew the story and how it would end, I was in tears when it was over.   It’s not a happy story.   There are happy moments in it, but there are also moments of extreme sacrifice and decisions that readers will probably find absolutely insane.   It’s beautifully dark and now rather than just reading about it through the letters, you can FEEL it. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Passionate, captivating, spell-binding, thought provoking. Sherry Jones does a phenomenal job at weaving primary sources in with her own vivid imagination. The use of first person narrative provides an intense relationship between the reader and the characters.You will feel their love and their joy. You will feel their pain and their sorrow. You will find topics of discussion throughout. This is not just a flippant love story, but one that truly captures the essence of the culture that Heloise and Abelard lived in. A brilliant work that brings this beautiful story to light to be enjoyed by all.
SuperReaderChick More than 1 year ago
This was a fantastic journey through one of history's epic romances. The book hits the ground running and you are invited into the lives and hearts of each character. As their romance progresses and life gets in the way, I found myself getting emotional for the characters and their plights. If you enjoy history and romance, this is a great book for you. 
Clarissa-Reads-It-All More than 1 year ago
&quot;I love you more than ever; and so revenge myself on him. I will still love you with all the tenderness of my soul till the last moment of my life. If, formerly, my affection for you was not so pure, if in those days both mind and body loved you, I often told you even then that I was more pleased with possessing your heart than with any other happiness, and the man was the thing I least valued in you.&quot; --H&eacute;lo&iuml;se d'Argenteuil I am finding it so difficult to come up with enough words to describe how much I adored this book. Sherry Jones is an absolute tour de force in this. If you haven't tried her books before, I cannot emphasize enough how much you're missing out by not reading them. She has written &quot;Four Sisters, All Queens,&quot;, &quot;<em>The Jewel of Medina&quot;, &quot;The Sword of Medina,&quot; </em> and an e-novella,<em> &quot;White Heart,&quot;</em> which is a prequel to <em>Four Sisters</em> . I have read all of these and I assure you, whatever Sherry writes next, I will be in line to read. She is an absolutely stunning author and a wonderful, warm person who I am honored to know...and share a birthday with! Writing from Heloise's point of view, she brings us to the first day that Abelard and Heloise meet and the road they traverse down. It is beautifully written and I found myself being brought to tears, laughing with them, feeling anxiety, wanting the happiest of endings...but alas, if you know the story then you know, that is a fate that will elude them both, unfortunately. They eventually have a child, secretly marry and are cruelly separated, with Heloise eventually taking vows and becoming a nun and eventually becoming an abbess, which is the last thing she wants to become.   Abelard is brutally attacked by some of Heloise's uncle's friends...there's so much I want to tell you all but that would be unfair. I don't want to give everything away! There are moments where you will ponder, why is life so cruel? Why couldn't they simply be allowed to be together? (Consequences be damned!) The medieval years were truly an oppressive time if you were a woman; bound to do as a man told you and what the church tells you to do. That Heloise was allowed to be the scholar that she was is astounding, as most women back them were restricted to learning housewifely duties.Only in death were they brought together once more, being buried together. Though their story has survived the ages and their letters to one another remain, I like to think that they've been reunited in the next life (if you believe in such a thing).