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Book details
  • Genre:FICTION
  • SubGenre:Christian / Classic & Allegory
  • Language:English
  • Pages:116
  • eBook ISBN:9781098390532
  • Paperback ISBN:9781098390525


by Donna Lee Davis

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Saint Genesius the Actor is said to have had a vision of the Christ after being "baptized" on stage in a farce ridiculing Christians. He was emboldened to offer his audience, including the Imperator Diocletian, the opportunity to learn about Jesus--which cost him his life. How did this Roman playwright and comedian come to such an end? He'd like to tell you.


Most successful fiction about early Christianity—such as Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace (1880), Quo Vadis by Henryk Sienklewicz (1897), The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas (1942) and The Silver Chalice by Thomas Costain (1953)—is set in or very close to the lifetime of Jesus. Genesius takes place at the time of the last great Roman persecution of Christians. It is the first-person account of a little known saint anxious to tell his own story. "I am myth, I am man, I am martyr," he begins. "I am all of these, or I am none." Here Saint Genesius of Rome, also known as the Actor, is given a backstory to explain his martyrdom, a personality-- arrogant, funny, lusty, conniving—and a life, far too short but oh so very memorable. Genesius: An imaginative tale, a glimpse of Christian history, a benediction.


As the author Ms Davis has noted, most popular historical novels of early Christianity focus on the first century.  Genesius is one of the few centered on the early fourth century and its violent persecution under Diocletian, who wanted to restore pagan devotion.  Out of a few threadbare legends about a play St Genesius performed before the emperor, Ms Davis has written a compelling story filled with the sounds, sights and smells that accompanied life in central Italy during this turbulent era.  Interestingly, the tale is presented in first person – from the vantage of St Genesius who refused to renounce his new belief.  This format severely constrains how events can be described.  An omniscient narrator can inform us of the thoughts and emotions of varied characters – as well as describe clandestine actions hidden from all but the reader. First person, on the other hand, limits the reader’s perspective to that of the protagonist – to his or her prejudice and immaturity, but draws an empathetic reaction to events that surround its participants.  Other novels, such as To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins also feature this style, and render these stories more relatable to their audiences.  All three describe dystopias at least in relation to the victims of injustice.  Genesius differs in that while background details of foodstuffs, architecture and social interaction are recreated from historical and anthropological knowledge for late ancient Rome, the protagonist denotes an historical individual caught up in the tumultuous calamity that beset a growing religious cult despised by the ruling elite.  This context corrects an unfortunate deficiency facing modern Christians ignorant of their salvation history, and apart from the style and dexterity of the author’s brief presentation, deserves commendation for supplementing our historical understanding.--G. W. Thielman

This book is a feast for the senses. We are transported to lush gardens among gorgeous flowers and fragrances. We are with Genesius in the famous Roman baths.  We are experiencing ancient foods, decor and luxuries through his eyes. Whether it is a rainstorm or a sunset, we are walking through the characters' lives in a very real way. Oftentimes I found the writing to be poetry using ancient language, and it was fresh and alluring. I wanted to read more. Genesius' journey to faith is gradual, imperceptible at first, and believable. What a lovely way to lay out the tenets of the Catholic faith. The characters are wonderful, completing his world with their individual quirks and humanity. Could there be more to the story? Of course there is a long version to everything. But what we have here is golden. Emotional, beautiful, and somehow touching our Christian history in a very real way.--Denise M. McCollum

I just finished reading Genesius and highly recommend it! It's a short but packed story about Genesius, an actor saint. Just wonderfully told; I almost felt part of that time! The details about this saint's life were so realistic, and the ending tied everything together and was beautifully written.  Superb job, Donna!--Carleen Delio

About the author
Donna Lee Davis has been writing since childhood. Twice she has self-published poetry volumes, Sheer Poetry in 1981 and Sheer Poetry Revisited in 2007; individual poems have been reprinted in periodicals. Her short story "Pappy's Girl" appeared in Carpe Articulum Literary Review (Fall 2010) and was short listed for the Nelson Algren Award (Chicago Tribune) in 2007. Nonfiction: Here Is the Church: A History of St. Mary Parish (2016). Novel: Matter of Discretion (2017). The novella sequel to Matter of Discretion is contained in Something Else Entirely: Collected Works (2019). Her latest work of fiction, Genesius (2021),is based upon the martyrdom of St. Genesius of Rome. Follow her blog, Just A Few Lines, on her website. Donna holds the USN Meritorious Civilian Service Medal (1999), which is (or was at the time) a fairly rare award. Now happily retired, she is writing into her old age. Website: www.donnaleedavis.com.

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