INQUISITOR’S NIECE -- A TREAT
FOR HISTORICAL FICTION READERS.
The second edition of The
Inquisitor's Niece has just come out. This review appeared in the Midwest
opens in Seville, Spain, in 1514, just after the deaths of King Ferdinand and
Queen Isabella. The Inquisitor General, a cardinal and bitter enemy of the
Jews, has issued a decree that all Jews must convert to Christianity or face
exile. In this world, "A Jew has no friends among
Christians." It's not the kind of atmosphere which would
encourage a Jew and a Christian to fall in love.
But Alonso and Luisa, the Inquisitor’s niece, prove the adage “Love
Spain comes to life through the thoughts and perceptions of this couple and
those who surround them…
of historical fiction will find this story absorbing and packed with historical
facts and insights that well represent the atmosphere, politics, and religious
and social concerns of 16th century Spain. Daily life under the darkness of the
Spanish Inquisition is well detailed and teaches much about the era while
supporting a compelling tale that involves readers in matters of the heart…
moves beyond the story of two frustrated would-be lovers separated by forces
beyond their control, and into a world that offers hope in the face of
fiction readers are in for a real treat with The Inquisitor's Niece.
#NOBEL – THE NOVEL! JUST
OUT: THREE WOMEN AND ALFRED NOBEL.
My new novel, based
on the correspondence between Nobel and his Viennese mistress (A NOBEL AFFAIR,
published 2017) has just appeared from Endeavour.
Three women are after
Nobel: Ida wants revenge for the death of her lover, who has been killed in an
accident at Nobel’s dynamite factory. Sophiewants compensation for the abuse
she suffered as Nobel’s mistress. Bertie wants Nobel to atone for his lethal
invention and spend the profit on a Peace Prize.
Set in fin-de-siècle
Vienna, THREE WOMEN AND ALFRED NOBEL exploresthe social constraints placed on
women, the traumatic effects of war on soldiers, and the ethnic tensions that
lead to the break-up of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy.
an incident happens in a library, the librarian must fill out a report.
Baillie’s novel is a collection of reports that strays into memoir territory.
Report 5, for example, is about morning anxiety. Every morning in the warmth of my bed, as I surface from sleep, fear
–small as a cherry stone, cracks open behind my breastbone.
Report 45 is about meeting a young man in the park, reading a children’s novel.
If somebody had asked me, I would have
said that a young man with a gentle expression and missing a finger, reading a
children’s novel, resting before his next shift driving a taxi, was as good a
person to fall in love with as anyone, but that I was not interested in more
suffering. Yet she falls in love and suffers.
Man, one of the regulars at the library, makes his appearance in several
Incident Reports: He never borrows
books, CDs or DVDs, never surfs the net or nervously taps messages, hunching
over the keyboard, as the others do…He comes with one purpose only: to make
multiple copies of the documents riding in his suitcase.
he leaves behind notes. They all concern one subject: Verdi’s Rigoletto and the
death of the hunchback’s daughter. She’s
too young to know danger, one of his notes says. Ah, poor hunchback, with no right to happiness. But this time I won’t
let any harm come to her. If one of those men should so much as touch a hair on
her head, my gorgeous daughter with the freckled hands…I dropped the paper. I
closed myself in the bathroom and stared at my hands. They were as they had
always been – slim, pale and covered in freckles.
don’t normally write about short stories, but this one (NYer August 20) got to
me. The language is exquisite – ironic since the protagonist is a writer who is having a hard time writing.
aid the process, he goes
cross-country skiing, his skis
chattering over the grooves of a snowmobile track. He meets a musher with
his team of dogs resting, ears back,
with wry grins on their lean faces. Then they range out, zigzagging, negotiating a scent stream. Sometime he goes
running. His pounding feet set off the
mergansers at the water’s edge, a thrashing mass of windmilling legs and
timeless observations are disrupted by social science cant that jerks you back
into the present: cognitive dissonance,
people drawn together by trauma, talk about the refugee crisis with a woman
friend who has worked in the camps. They have sex rather coolly, in the no-nonsense way it’s done today or at least
the way in which it is depicted in contemporary writing. I kissed her only once, he says, and didn’t really want to kiss her anyway, but I was born in the
Midwest, and they teach us there to try to be good people, and to kiss during
sex. Is that so?
why bother to ask that question? After all, fiction is the most shameless genre. It makes no attempt to avert its