Erich Segal, the creator of the master piece of The Love Story, brings his charm again in his book ‘Acts of Faith’. A book, that takes you into the world of love and religion, increases your heart beat and sweeps you off your feet.
Acts of Faith has three main protagonists around whom the story revolves mainly. They were childhood friends and then the equation of relationship eventually changed between them. It’s the story of Deborah, Daniel and Timothy aka Tim. Tim standing up for Daniel in their childhood days just to protect Daniel from the wrath of native Christian boys as the latter was the son of a very powerful rabbi. Daniel and Deborah are siblings and they are of Jewish decent. Since the very early days their parents have tried to instil in them the strict discipline and rules of the Jewish world. However, fate had something else in store for them. Daniel is expected to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a rabbi. But due to unexpected turn of events, he who is supposed to make his father proud ends up breaking his father’s heart. He goes to U.S for studying, observes the life style, analyses it and ends up changing the course of his life completely. Deborah, being the rebel she was, first breaks her father’s heart by giving in to her feelings for Tim. The latter used to work in the house of the rabbi as a punishment for breaking the glass of the rabbi’s house. Tim was an orphan of Irish Catholic descent and was brought up by his uncle and aunt. Since his childhood, ignorance and vehemence is what he had received and, amongst all this, when he saw the angelic face of Deborah he could not stop from falling in love with her; a step that changed their lives forever. She further crushes her father’s faith in her by escaping from the place she was sent as a punishment for responding to Tim’s feelings even for a second. She decides to take the reign of her life in her hands and decides to leave the family she was sent to live with and to wait for attaining salvation for her sin of falling for Tim. In the meantime Tim feels guilty because he feels foolish for trying to express his love for Deborah, which was witnessed by the rabbi himself, and had driven Deborah to spend the rest of her life in exile. Exchange of letters between the two did happen but Tim was too engrossed in guilt to try to rescue Deborah, but in their heart of hearts both had accepted the fact that they were unconditionally in love with each other and both wished to see each other at least once before their death.
Things further go hay wire when Deborah goes ahead to become a rabbi, an event that is strictly prohibited in the zone of Orthodox Judaism. Here, women were considered way below the degree of men in all strata and a rebel who goes ahead to become a female rabbi going against not only the social strata but also the religious strata. Tim also found a wonderful career with the Catholic Church. But love leads him to rebellion and away from what he is destined to be. The vows he took could neither protect nor save him from the passions of love he felt for Deborah.
One destined to be the rabbi, the other destined to be the dutiful and demure wife of the rabbi and the last one destined to lead the Catholic Church; all their fates tied to the same string of love, faith and hope. By far Erich Segal’s most thought provocative novel, Acts of Faith is a must read for those who would love to have a proper turf between the complicacies of religion, love and life.