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Weight of a Flame: The Passion of Olympia…

Weight of a Flame: The Passion of Olympia Morata (Chosen Daughters)

by Simonetta Carr

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I won this book a few months ago from a giveaway scavenger hunt featuring over thirty Christian authors (which, as a total aside, was SO FUN). I won this and two other Simonetta Carr books (Renee of France and Lady Jane Grey), autographed by the author by request, and didn’t really have any idea what I was getting into when I started reading.

Now, two months later (yes, I’m a very disorganized person), I’m finally writing that review that’s been sitting on my back burner all this time. I kept thinking, "oh, I'll do it tomorrow." And we all know that putting something off until tomorrow means you promptly forget all about it. Anyway, here it is now!

Oh, by the way, before I continue I’d like to announce for any and all reading this review that this book is a Christian book and I am a Christian. I don’t usually mention faith in reviews, because it is not necessary, but this is just where I’m coming from on this one.

So, a synopsis. Forget the blurb, which makes it seem like a giant love story when really there’s so much more than that going on! Here’s the real deal: The book tells the true story of Olympia Moratta, a Protestant Christian scholar in the Catholic Italian city-state of Ferrara (yes, my first thought was Ferrari. No, I’m pretty sure the words are not related). At a young age she was chosen to tutor the Duchess Renee’s children, and the book follows her entire life as a tutor, a believer, and later a wife and war victim. She died tragically young, but reading Weight of a Flame you can see her devotion to God, which made it easier for her to endure.

Anyway. It was obvious that Simonetta Carr put in a lot of research while writing this book; the details are numerous and thorough, and while I don’t know much about the real Olympia I get the feeling she captured her essence quite completely, as well as filling in gaps that history doesn’t tell us.

Occasionally, I will point out, the writing is a tad clumsy – there is one scene I remember that starts with the thoughts of one character, then a moment later we hear another’s thoughts, before gliding back into Olympia’s head. Maybe this was just Carr using omnipresent (or whatever it’s called), or maybe it was a mistake, but whatever the case it was a bit disconcerting. Besides these very occasional distractions, the story ran very smoothly and coherently, and touched on many storylines and issues, from family relationships (just with her father and, later, husband, though. Her mother and sisters just kind of wave her off when she leaves to court, and she didn’t contact them much afterwards) to politics, to a woman scholar, to the prominent issue of faith being fought over at the time.

Just one little paragraph about the faith issue and I’ll be done, I promise. I know this isn’t so much an issue with Carr’s writing as it is with Olympia’s beliefs themselves – actually, really it’s an issue with the times themselves. But (and please understand, I’m not the least bit Catholic) was it really necessary for people to risk their families, or leave their homes altogether, just to practice Protestantism over Catholocism?

Yes, yes, I know people should be able to practice their faith in peace. I know it’s much better for everyone when they can. But it’s not, say, Christianity vs. Hinduism. Or even Christianity vs. Judaism! Two warring factors of Christianity pointed fingers at each other and denounced their opponent as the antichrist. I mean, in the words of Marie Antoinette, “Paris is worth a mass!”

Wait. Sorry, that was Henry something-or-other, dead a long time before Marie Antoinette was born, and we’re not talking about Paris. I think Marie Antoinette said something about cake, right?
But the quote still kinda holds, right? Because isn’t it worth more for you and your family to be safe, than it is to get to practice every little aspect of your faith? I mean, I know the Catholics have some beliefs that are kind of different. Like about the Pope, and Mother Mary, and all that. But as long as you believe and worship, does it really matter how you’re worshipping? I for one think Jesus doesn’t care. Just as long as it’s clear to the worshipper in their heart who it is they're worshipping.

Whoops, I think that was three paragraphs about the religion. Oh, well, you forgive me, don’t you? No? Oh, well.

But getting back to the book itself, I recommend it to - well, I guess mainly Christians. It really is an inspirational story about living your beliefs, whether or not you agree with the beliefs in the book – and I know many won’t agree with me, and will say Olympia was spot on. I don’t call her spot on – but I still enjoyed the book.

This review is also available on my blog, Read Till Dawn. ( )
  Jaina_Rose | Mar 1, 2016 |
What would it be like to live in the years immediately following the Reformation? How joyful would the discovery of Gospel truth be? Yet, how terrible would it feel to know people close to you, who are suffering for their faith? The turbulent period which followed the Reformation is captured well in a new book by Simonetta Carr.

In "Weight of a Flame: The Passion of Olympia Morata" (part of the Chosen Daughters series from P & R Publishing), Carr tells the story of a Reformation-era heroine still remembered to this day. Olympia Morata was an Italian tutor and scholar, who embraced the teachings of Martin Luther and John Calvin with as much fervor as her professor father. She was fluent in Latin and Greek by the time she was 12, and at 13, she was summoned to the court of the Duke of Ferrara to tutor his eldest daughter, Anna D’Este. Morata developed into a scholar in her own right, lecturing on Cicero and studying philosophy. And she was known for her poetry, having written her own metrical adaptations of the Psalms.

This obscure historical figure is brought to life through the imagination and pen of author Simonetta Carr. Carr weaves us in and out of the tale of Morata’s short life. We share her wonderment at going to court, and learn with her of the terrible plight of French refugees fleeing religious persecution. Morata’s relationship with her father and her family is developed and a romance eventually unfolds.

But the story of Olympia Morata has its dark turns. She encounters suffering martyrs and survives a bout with the black plague. At one point her town is besieged and then sacked, and she and her family run for their lives. And at the young age of 28, she dies.

The author doesn’t leave us with the bare facts of the case. She infuses the story with Gospel hope. The characters rehearse Scriptural promises to each other and find encouragement in the Gospel. And through this fictional account we can imagine what it really would be like to be there in Olympia’s and her husband’s shoes living through these difficult times.

Stories like these can help build the faith of our children. This book, directed primarily to girls, will both educate and inspire them. And the story is written well enough to captivate both children and their parents. As the father of five daughters, I can’t wait to place "Weight of a Flame" in their hands. I can’t thank the author enough for uncovering another Christian heroine for my daughters to look up to and to emulate. May the hope-filled life of Olympia Morata inspire many chosen daughters to trust the Gospel and risk their lives for the cause of Christ.

Disclaimer: This book was provided by P & R Publishing for review. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review. ( )
2 vote bobhayton | Jan 17, 2012 |
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