Friday, September 16, 2011
Review of The Fabulous Voyage Across the Ocean Sea by Jan Prasad
I just finished reading The Fabulous Voyage Across the Ocean Sea by Jan Prasad, and I am simply awestruck. Both the writing and the research in this novel is faultless. Even more, I am struck by the authors ability to bring to life the story of a people beset by cruelty and hatred in the D'Avilas, a family of conversos during the height of their persecution and expulsion from Spain in the 15th century.
Miguel D'Avila, a gem dealer, has long been estranged from his father after his father had an affair with his betroathed. However, Miguel is summoned to return to his father's side in Toledo. After his father's housekeeper, in Miguel's company, witnesses one of the horrific executions of conversos, she accuses the family of secretly practicing Judaism. Although they escape trial, which would have meant certain death, Miguel is charged by his dying father with finding his illegitimate half-brother, Luis. After locating his brother, Miguel is drawn into Christopher Columbus's plans for a voyage to the east by a western route funded by the monarchs, Isabella and Ferdinand. Instead they find a New World, but a new world with very old persecution as the native peoples are subjected to torture, forced conversion and enslavement.
When Columbus returns to Spain without Miguel, Luis is drawn to the New World to learn his fate and to escape the dangers of life in Spain in spite of his suspicions that Columbus has not discovered a route to the east. Yet he is drawn back to his homeland by his responsibilities there and discovers that Miguel had left a son in Spain, Aurelio, who has survived in an orphanage. Although his uncle was unable to rescue him from the orphanage, eventually Aurelio finds out the truth about his family and the truth about Columbus to be passed down to a dramatic end in the 20th century.
This novel leaves one pondering the falsehoods with which we grew up and the unjustices upon which our society was founded. And one must ponder whether those are truly past or lurking within us for the chance to re-emerge.
In spite of what I consider an awful cover, I really can not recommend this novel highly enough.
The Fabulous Voyage Across the Ocean Sea by Jan Prasad is available on Amazon.