Friday, July 19, 2013

REVIEW: The Inquisitor's Wife by Jeanne Kalogridis

Synopsis: 1481 Seville: The Inquisition makes its first appearance in Spain.  Its target: conversos, Christians of Jewish descent—specifically those who practice Judaism secretly in their homes. The penalty for “crypto-Judaism”: Burning at the stake.

Marisol Garcia, a young conversa, is hurriedly wed to Gabriel, a civil lawyer working for the Inquisition, in hopes that he will protect her. But she still yearns for the childhood love who abandoned her four years earlier, and she’s shocked when he reappears suddenly at her wedding. When her father is arrested and tortured, Marisol finds herself caught between her love for him and her desire to save the lives of her people. After becoming a favorite of the ruthless Queen Isabella, Marisol discovers a dangerous secret about her former lover, Antonio, and finds herself trapped in a life-threatening web of intrigue. As the Inquisition’s snares tighten around her, Marisol’s love for Antonio and loyalty to her Jewish family is tested as never before…

My Thoughts:  I have been meaning to read something by this author for quite some time.  I have three more of her books on my shelf waiting to be read and I have heard wonderful things about them.  The first thing that stood out to me after reading this novel is that the synopsis given for it is a little misleading. While Marisol is torn about her love for Antonio, this is not really the focus of the book.  It is rather more in the vein of watching Marisol come into her own as a young woman while dealing with the horrific circumstances wrought on her life by the dreaded Inquisition.

What I found exemplary about this book is how thoroughly the author delves into this unfortunate period in history.  The fanaticism of the Queen and Inquisitors in their persecutions was well conveyed here.  I found it remarkable that Isabella could invite Conversos to her court entertainments one night and the very next day authorize the torture of those very same people.  Where I had trouble with Inquisitor's Wife was in the area of character development.  I felt the only character I got to "know" well enough in the story and due to her mulish pride and awful treatment of her mother, she wasn't very likable in the first half of the novel.  A few characters were understandably left more vague in order to produce those ah ha! enlightened plot twists later in the novel but others especially Gabriel who Marisol is forced to wed and Antonio whom her heart really belongs to could have been fleshed out a bit more.  Marisol also frustrated me a bit because she experiences some truly awful things throughout the course of the novel yet reacts to them in a way that seemed a bit unnatural to me. 

The action does pick up in the latter quarter of the book and hurtles home to a satisfying ending but with the pacing of the book being a little on the slow side and my struggles with Marisol I didn't enjoy this one as much as others set in the same time period.  I am still planning on reading the others I have by this author because I really do enjoy her style of writing.  I'm just thinking that I should have started with a different book.  Kudos to whoever chose the cover design for this book-I love it!

This book was provided for me for review by the publisher via NetGalley.  These are my honest thoughts on the book.


  1. I've read about this period in history - some people assimilated very well but others were not so fortunate.

  2. Thanks for the review, Holly. I'll be reading this one soon and wonder if my thoughts on it will mirror yours. I've read a couple of Kalogridis' other novels (The Borgia Bride, which I really enjoyed, and The Devil's Queen, which I didn't like).

  3. I have several of this author's books on my shelf, but haven't read them yet nor have I made them a high priority. I find this period of history to be fascinating tho.

  4. It is so sad to me that not much has changed as to how far people will go in the name of religion from then to now. God & Jesus surely weep at the horror of how people hate by using religion. There is one God-no matter which religion you follow. It sickens me. Jeanne is an awesome author & I have read all her books.

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