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Thursday, 18 April 2013

Book Review: The Inquisitor's Wife by Jeanne Kalogridis

Review Copy from Netgalley

The Inquisitor's Wife
By Jeanne Kalogridis
Historical
St. Martin's Press
Release Date: May 17 2013 (May be subject to change)
4 Stars

Blurb:

From the author of the critically acclaimed BORGIA BRIDE and THE SCARLET CONTESSA, comes another irresistible historical novel set during the Spanish Inquisition about a young woman who will stop at nothing to save her people from Torquemada’s torturers:

THE INQUISITOR'S WIFE.

In 1480 Seville, Marisol, a fearful young conversa (descendant of Spanish Jews forced to convert to Christianity), is ashamed of her Jewish blood. Forced into a sham marriage with a prosecutor for the new Inquisition, Marisol soon discovers that her childhood sweetheart, Antonio, has just returned to Seville and is also working for the inquisitors. When Marisol’s father is arrested and tortured during Spain’s first auto da fe, Marisol comes to value her Jewish heritage and vows to fight the Inquisition. When she discovers that her beloved Antonio is working to smuggle conversos safely out of Spain, she joins him and risks her life on behalf of her people; a passionate romance follows.

Unfortunately, Marisol does not realize that her supposedly kind and gentle inquisitor-husband has been using her all along to lead Antonio and her fellow conversos to their doom...

Review:

A little bit slow-moving at times and a little bit confusing at first with the timelines jumping from Marisol as a young woman to various times in her childhood. It made the flow falter a bit and took a while for me to get into it.

However, once we reach Marisol's wedding to her neighbour, Gabriel, an agent of the Inquisition, that's when the story really seemed to take off. With, lush, vivid descriptions, you can almost feel the lace and velvet, almost taste the food that the author describes. I think it was a pity that the book is told in first-person, for we only ever get to see what Marisol thinks and I would have loved to have been in the head of some of the other characters, such as her childhood sweetheart, Antonio.

In this book we get to see the horror and terror of the Inquisition first hand, neighbour spying on neighbour, friend on friend, wondering who would be denounced next. Once accused, there is no comeback for all the accusers are guaranteed anonymity. The torture scenes were a bit graphic for my taste, but it made it seem that much more real and horrific, which since this is based on history, it was.

I have a bit of a bone to pick with the blurb/description of the book: her supposedly kind and gentle inquisitor-husband. Gabriel was never gentle and he was never kind as described in the book, he was a bully and a coward and delighted in instilling fear in anyone weaker than himself, including his new bride, Marisol.

It was interesting to see the public face of the saintly Queen Isabel, and then see the not-so saintly revels she and her courtiers engaged in once out of the eyes of the monks and nuns, for Marisol had been invited to sing at one of these private revels.

The book tells what might have been the true reason for the Inquisition and it had nothing to do with religion, but more corruption, greed and jealousy. It has a hopeful ending, but I don't want to give too much away. An interesting read for any Historical fiction and romance fan.

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