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October 3, 2012

Sylvain Reynard: Redemption

“Look for me in Hell.” – Gabriel’s Inferno

The characters in my novels Gabriel’s Inferno and Gabriel’s Rapture aren’t perfect. Professor Gabriel Emerson is arrogant and cruel until he encounters a woman he wants more than his own self-satisfaction. Even our heroine, Julia, has flaws and shortcomings.

But if one wants to tell a story about redemption and have that story mean something, a character’s need for redemption must be made clear.

As an author, my goal is to show that despite the complexities of human frailty, grace and forgiveness persist. First and foremost, however, the character has to recognize his failures and wish to change them.

Both of my novels were inspired by Graham Greene’s writing and the way he presents redemption and forgiveness.

“…this is a record of hate far more than love …”

So writes Greene near the beginning of his novel The End of the Affair. Readers are no doubt surprised, shocked perhaps, that a novel with so tantalizing a title is a diary of hatred. Indeed, readers will be far more surprised when they discover that God is among the hated, especially when the narrator admits that he begins his story failing to believe in God at all.

The novel is one of my favourites. It explores love and faith, but it does so by focusing on the lives of sinners rather than saints, atheists rather than believers, while curiously weaving instances of coincidence or miracle in the narrative.

The narrator, Maurice Bendrix, engages in an adulterous affair with Sarah Miles, the wife of his friend. Sarah ends their affair abruptly, leaving Bendrix jealous and suspicious. A strange collusion begins as Sarah’s husband, Henry, confides in Bendrix that he believes she is being unfaithful.

Bendrix hires a private investigator to follow Sarah, determined to discover the identity of the lover for whom she has abandoned him. What he learns is most unexpected.

Greene is not the first Catholic writer to explore issues of faith in his novels. But The End of the Affair is not the kind of book that one would normally shelve as inspirational. Indeed, Bendrix is not saintly. His lust and love for Sarah have been transformed into a burning hatred. Even during their affair, when he thought that he loved her, he was occasionally cruel. Bendrix is hardly a romantic hero and the novel is certainly not a
romance in the conventional sense.

But there’s something appealing about the way Greene presents his characters and their shortcomings, something that resonates in the reader. Indeed, many readers who would never read an inspirational book might find themselves picking up The End of the Affair and enjoying it.

I’ve had similar reactions from my readers, some of whom would never read a love story or something that could be categorized as romance.

But the need for love and redemption is something that transcends genres, and it’s something that both Greene and I explore in our novels.

About the Author:
Sylvain Reynard is a Canadian writer with an interest in Renaissance art and culture and an inordinate attachment to the city of Florence. website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

See my review of Gabriel's Inferno. Get your copy at IndieBound, Amazon, and other retailers.
See my review of Gabriel's Rapture. Get your copy at IndieBound, Amazon, and other retailers.

Writer Wednesdays is a weekly feature on Girl Who Reads where authors can share about their writing.. The views, beliefs, and opinions expressed by guest post authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views, beliefs, or opinions of Girl Who Reads. Girl Who Reads is an advertising affiliate with Amazon and IndieBound; a small fee is earned when purchases are made using the above links.

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