An American priest . . . a Belgian nun . . .

. . . kidnapped while sightseeing

in picturesque Bruges;

a tale of loss, faith, and courage . . . 

a tender love story born within

the context of unspeakable evil.

The Saint of Florenville is now available as an ebook for $2.99 at the following locations:

 In Kindle format at Kindle Store.

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 In all major ebook formats at

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The trade paperback edition is now available at

CreateSpace    Barnes and Noble online

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Order through Ingram

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“Hard to imagine a story about a nun and a priest would make it to Grit Lit–especially as a love story. But The Saint of Florenville takes a grisly turn for the worse when a young Catholic nun, Mother Marie-Therese, and her friend, an American priest, Father Thomas Jensen, are kidnapped, sexually abused and drugged in adjoining cells. The abuse seemingly goes on forever: kidnap, torture, murder — and a love story that springs from the worst situation since Silence of the Lambs. The Saint of Florenville is a new genre for Grit Lit: a Roman Catholic international travel thriller. Garrotto brings an in-depth understanding of the challenges facing priests and nuns from his extensive experience as a lay minister. Garrotto’s 10th book and sixth novel explores the odyssey that is human life in interesting, unique and very gritty ways.”
— Myles Knapp, Contra Costa Times ( [SFO] Bay Area Newsgroup)

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“My pleasure reading is mostly relagated to vacations. Hence, while in SE Asia, I picked up The Saint of Florenville and found myself so engrossed in the story that I read it in one day. Al Garrotto has created a suspenseful peek into how humans carry regrettable actions from the past and how we can overcome the obstacles that pop into our lives, no matter how horrendous. Mixed in is a touching love story. Thanks for the well-written story.”
— Barbara Bentley, author of A Dance With the Devil: A True Story of Marriage to a Psychopath

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“Just finished The Saint of Florenville.  What I felt reminded me of favorite novels that ate up past-midnight sleep time.  Great plot.  Great characters.  My only problem was my wife who three nights running said, ‘It’s time to turn out the light.’ ”
Lawrence Fisher, certified Spiritual Director (San Francisco Bay Area)

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“Like a lotus flower that grows out of the mud and blossoms above the muddy water surface, Alfred J. Garrotto’s ‘The Saint of Florenville’, beautifully and tenderly illustrates how two stricken souls rise above the defilements and sufferings that befall them in this harrowing and shocking tale, and go on to reclaim their dignity in a fresh – albeit unusual – manner. But most of all, the novel, written in vivid and fluid prose, is true to its subtitle: it is a ‘love story’ of the most tender and profound kind. Set inBelgium’s “Venice of the North” –Bruges– and in the bucolic border town of Florenville, this dark account of the kidnap and subsequent horrendous abuse of an American priest and Belgian nun, is in essence a love letter to the indomitable and resilient power of the human spirit. And a testament to the intimate and all-pervasive Grace of God. (5 Stars)”
–Gerard P. Murphy, Virginia (USA) retreat house director

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“This is a gripping love story set in Bruges and a convent in the south of Belgium. Love of a different sort, love that has no bounds and no conditions. The story is well-crafted with strong characters, and the writing is inspired. Be prepared for a challenge for the story is cerebral. The book is steeped in suspense, and it is a page-turner. I was prepared to give it a week of casual reading; I finished it in two sessions. Highly recommended.  (5 Stars!)”  — Harlan Hague, Ph.D. (on Amazon Kindle)

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“The Saint of Florenville is a wonderful love story with a great twist. The author leaves you continually thinking of what is going to happen next. A real page turner. I highly recommend it. (5 Stars)”
— Katie Q (on Amazon Kindle)

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On the morning of July 26, 2010, something entirely new and quite unexpected happened to me. But first, let me backtrack. I had already written and published five novels, the most recent, Down a Narrow Alley (2005). Since then I’ve turned my attention mostly to nonfiction projects, the most satisfying of which was The Wisdom of Les Miserables: Lessons From the Heart of Jean Valjean (2008). This set of personal reflections on themes from Victor Hugo’s classic novel have been well-received by individual readers and spiritual study/discussion groups.

 I had no intention of writing another novel. I thought I’d told all the stories I had in me, except for one half-finished, dead-in-the-water novel (and stories I make up for my grandson’s entertainment). That’s why I was surprised to wake up that July morning a year ago with a rough, but complete, narrative arc in my head, plus the three main characters who would carry the story from beginning to end. I even had a working title,  A Train to Bruges. For the next six weeks, I continued to wake up with snippets of story and characterization, all of which I scribbled in the notebook I keep bedside, just in case (rarely) I  think of something brilliant during the night.*

 As always, writing the first draft was exhilarating. My dreamed-up characters came to life. My villain was sufficiently evil. Best of all, I knew from Day 1 how the story would end. Studying the completed first draft, I realized as many novelists do in that situation, that all I had in hand was a skeleton. My story needed flesh, which came only with grinding effort through subsequent drafts. I embarked on the research I needed to make the setting (Brussels, Bruges, and Florenville, Belgium) and my characters (an American priest, a Belgian nun, a young female reporter, and a vicious villain) jump off the page.

By mid-July, 2011, I had arrived at Draft 9 and could finally add the # # # symbols indicating that I had finally come to “The End.” Somewhere along the way, my working title had yielded to the published title, The Saint of Florenville: A Love Story.

Response to the ms. from my beta readers–each a published author and/or spiritual guide–was encouraging, overwhelming, in fact: “the most powerful novel I’ve ever read” . . . “the characters drew me as if I was attached to them by rope or chain” . . . “a powerful story” . . . “a gorgeous, romantic novel, beautiful, masterful.” Heady stuff.

I am pleased now to share The Saint of Florenville: A Love Story with readers the world over.

* The lined, hardcover notebook was a gift from writer-friend Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff in May 2010 for my role in helping with the California Writers Club, Mount Diablo Branch’s Young Writers Contest. The notebook had rested on my night stand unused until that moment in July when I began filling its pages each morning with plot, character, and setting notes.