Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: Hardcover (647 pages)
Source: Publisher via Blogging For Books
My Rating: 4 Umbrellas
It’s January of 1748. Caridad is a recently freed Cuban slave wondering the streets of Seville. Her master is dead and she has nowhere to go. When her path crosses with Milagros Carmona’s-a young, rebellious gypsy-the two women are instantly inseparable. Milagros introduces Caridad to the gypsy community, an exotic fringe society that will soon change her life forever. Over time they each fall in love with men who are fiercely loyal and ready to fight to the death for their rights as a free people. When all gypsies are declared outlaws by royal mandate, life in their community becomes perilous. They soon find themselves in Madrid-a city of passion and dancing, but also a treacherous one full of smugglers and thieves. Caridad and Milagros must help in the gypsy’s struggle against society and its laws in order to stay together; it’s a dangerous battle that cannot, and will not, be easily won. From the tumultuous bustle of Seville to the theaters of Madrid, The Barefoot Queen is a historical fresco filled with characters that live, love, suffer, and fight for what they believe.
*I rate this 3.5 stars. Since I don’t do half ratings on this blog, 4 stars will suffice.*
Set in the backdrop of 18th Century Spain, Falcones paints a picture of two strong women, determined to live their lives as they see fit. More importantly, live them freely. Caridad is an African/Cuban slave, who has found herself free after her master dies unexpectedly on journey to Spain. This should be a joyous occurrence, that she is free. That, however, is not the case as she is left in a foreign country, without the means to survive. Taunted and mocked at by the local men, Caridad is not sure how she will overcome this supposed freedom and make a life for herself. She is taken in by the gypsy community and quickly befriends Milagros. The two women become close and all seems well for Caridad and the freedom she so rightly deserved. But, as fate would have it, the happiness doesn’t last long. The gypsy community is not as safe as Caridad thought.
I don’t want to give too much away, but this book is hard to stomach. I poured over it for 2 weeks, and that had nothing to do with the page count. The crimes against women in general made me stop reading. I wanted to skim through those parts, but I knew that this was apart of the story and as much as it sickened me, I had to give in. If there ever was a book with too much detail, it is this one. I am always eager to jump into historical fiction. I can give the author kudos for the research on 18th-Century Spain and the lives of gypsy women in retrospect. I felt like this was too much information to pack into one book.
The book itself is beautiful. The cover drew me in and once I got my hands on it, I loved it even more. Would I recommend this book? Yes. There’s so much history that people often times forget. It’s nice to read about the “facts” of historical events or acts that were of importance back then. People fear things they don’t understand. And I love how authors take those things and add in their own fictional characters to recall the history. If you love historical fiction, and aren’t afraid to read the hard things, I say read this book. It’s rather long and detailed but I can honestly say that I enjoyed having read it. The plot is interesting and so is the history behind it.
*I received this book from Blogging For Books for this review*