Full disclosure: Simon LeVay, author of The Donation of Constantine, is an old friend of mine and a hero to our LGBT community. His research at Harvard Medical School and the Salk Institute advanced our cause and raised signifiant questions about sexual orientation that even the skeptics could not ignore.
Before The Donation of Constantine Dr. LeVay had written a veritable library of books on such amazingly different subjects as earthquakes, the human brain, the scientific search for extraterrestrial life, Parkinson's Disease, human sexuality and the New York Times bestseller When Science Goes Wrong.
So you can imagine my surprise when just weeks ago the media announced that in his retirement Dr. Simon LeVay had returned to his computer to write a 420 page historical novel that is as fascinating and as hard to put down as The DaVinci Code or Angels and Demons. Look out Dan Brown! I'm hoping that very soon - if enough fans of epic historical fiction hear about this page turner - Simon LeVay will be climbing up the bestseller lists that you have dominated for so long.
Set in the troubled eighth century and based on real people and actual events The Donation of Constantine brings to life that moment in Rome's history when it lay defenseless before the Lombards, a warmongering nation that had conquered many Italian cities and was about to descend on Rome. When the Eastern Emperor refused to send help, Stephen II, Rome's new Pope, had to depend on his wily younger brother, Paul, and a brilliant and seductive visiting nun to hatch up a plot that would not only save Rome from the pagan hoards but guarantee its place in history as the undisputed headquarters of the universal Catholic Church.
If you love (almost) true stories laced with passion, intrigue, and romance, I suggest you overcome your resistance to the idea that an esteemed brain researcher can write a captivating novel. Simon LeVay is a brilliant scientist whose linguistic skills gave him access to a treasure trove of documents unveiling one of the great deceptions in history and whose scientific imagination and curiosity brings that deception to life. And though a great (meaning entertaining) read, LeVay's novel also raises fascinating spiritual and ethical issues that are as contemporary as those being raised by the words and actions of Pope Francis, words and actions that inspire and inform us all.