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Miracle in Seville [Hardcover]

James A. Michener
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Hardcover, April 22 1997 --  
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Book Description

April 22 1997
America's bestselling author transports readers to magical Seville, Spain, at Easter time, a season of splendid pageantry, exciting bullfights, deep piety--and miracles. An American journalist, sent to Seville on assignment to cover the efforts of a rancher to revive his once proud line of bulls--uncovers a story that shakes his newspaperman's hard-bitten pragmatism. 26 illustrations.

Product Details


Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Minor Michener at best, this slim yarn of bullfighting, religious faith, honor and adventure reaffirms the author's love of Spain, evidenced in his earlier Iberia, and introduces a veneer of spirituality that bestows a glib trendiness on the narrative. In flashback, narrator Shenstone, an American sports journalist, tells about his experiences two decades previously, when he was covering bullfights in Seville during a three-week festival that began on Palm Sunday. Shenstone meets proud, aged rancher Don Cayetano Mota, who prays to the Virgin Mary that the bulls he raises will perform well and thereby redeem his family name. Don Cayetano, whose spirit enters the consciousness of his bulls as they fight in the ring, has repeated apparitions of the Madonna that skeptical rationalist Shenstone initially dismisses; as events unfold, however, the American's disbelief is shaken. Don Cayetano's enemy is scrawny, cowardly Gypsy matador Lazaro Lopez, whose sister, the sinister Gypsy storyteller Magdalena, foresees that a bullfight will end in tragedy and uses her occult power to protect her brother. Regrettably, the final showdown in the ring?a mortal duel between good and evil?turns on simplistic stereotypes. And though Michener intends his colorful narrative, crammed with the lore of the toreador, as a paen to bullfighting, those who regard the sport as a cruel spectacle will find confirmation in the graphic narrative. Illustrated with 26 two-color drawings by John Fulton, a Seville-based American matador. Simultaneous Random House Audiobook; simultaneous large print trade edition, $22 0-679-76510-7.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Megaselling historical novelist Michener tells a tall tale. Shenstone, a sports journalist, goes to Spain to cover the aged proprietor of a ranch that produces bulls for the corrida--animals that, alas, do not measure up to the grandeur of their grandsires. The old man, Don Cayetano Mota, is praying daily and performing acts of homage to the Virgin--some of them dangerously demanding of a man of his years--so that she will intercede and restore the honor of his bulls. After one disastrous corrida in Malaga, Don Cayetano's prayers start coming true. But the old man gets involved in a contemptuous war of wills with a flashy young matador who is infamous for his sloppy kills and, worse yet, his frequent ploy of arguing with a fight's presidente that a bull is not worth killing, which causes the fans to riot. Inevitably, there comes a showdown between one of the newly magnificent Mota animals and the "cowardly" fighter, during which Shenstone, who has already seen some remarkable things when Don Cayetano has been at prayer, realizes that he has witnessed the miraculous. Par for Michener, most of the prose is as lively as income-tax instructions, and the characterizations are monochromatic. But Michener loves bullfighting, and whenever this tale focuses on it, his writing becomes, if hardly brilliant, at least informatively interesting. Ray Olson --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

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3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars outrageously inaccurate and badly written March 9 1999
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Anyone who knows Spain and bullfighting can only cringe (or hoot in derision) upon reading this ridiculous book. One has to wonder if Michener ever really visited this country. Among the many inaccuracies in the book, I'll list a few of the craziest: he has Spaniards spending pesos (the currency in Spain is pesetas), he has the locals referring to El Puerto de Santa Maria as "Santa Maria" (which no one does), and he has two bullfighters blaming a third for ruining their chances of getting carried out of the bullring in triumph (this simply never happens--each bullfighter is judged on his own merits). And the book is just badly written--somehow managing to be dull and melodrmatic at the same time. The "fiery gypsy" is an absurd stereotype, and all the characters are presented in the most wooden and amateurish manner. Only John Fulton's fine illustrations save the book from being a total loss (but Fulton--who was himself a matador--should have been ashamed of himself for being party to such a travesty).
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Story Beautifully Told Oct. 22 1997
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Hearing about the bull fights before visiting Spain I thought how cruel and terrible. My opinion was based on ideas I do not share and a culture I do not understand. In Madrid, I experienced a bullfight sitting next to a local. What I learned to appreciate that day. Now reading "Miracle", again my perspective has been changed. And isn't that what truly good reading does - changes our perspective? Michener teaches about the history and glory of the bullfight creating an understanding with the reader. While still not my choice of sport for the treatment of the animal, I better understand the bullfight. Thanks, Michener!
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By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I found that this book captured the beauty of Seville in all of it's grandeur. It described the love and passion of bullfighting and how it is reflected in the religous faith of it's most devout. The book accurately describes the love and devotion that the Spanish in Seville have for Our most Holy Mother. She is love and she is above all things. The book tells of how Our Lady peforms all kinds of miracles for those good and devout to her.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Story Beautifully Told Oct. 22 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Hearing about the bull fights before visiting Spain I thought how cruel and terrible. My opinion was based on ideas I do not share and a culture I do not understand. In Madrid, I experienced a bullfight sitting next to a local. What I learned to appreciate that day. Now reading "Miracle", again my perspective has been changed. And isn't that what truly good reading does - changes our perspective? Michener teaches about the history and glory of the bullfight creating an understanding with the reader. While still not my choice of sport for the treatment of the animal, I better understand the bullfight. Thanks, Michener!
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It is about the enchanting mystery of the powers of Faith. Aug. 9 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I found that this book captured the beauty of Seville in all of it's grandeur. It described the love and passion of bullfighting and how it is reflected in the religous faith of it's most devout. The book accurately describes the love and devotion that the Spanish in Seville have for Our most Holy Mother. She is love and she is above all things. The book tells of how Our Lady peforms all kinds of miracles for those good and devout to her.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Spain's Preoccupation As Told By An American. Dec 27 2008
By Betty Burks - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This was not an easy book for me to read. Michener gives the history of bullfighting which is Spain's ancient tradition. The festivities begin with a man in medieval costume on a white horse asking for permission to get the games started. There will be three matadors and six animals. The parade like Mardi Gras is unmatched in any other sport. This strange novel is full of the pageantry surrouding the running of the bulls every year at Holy Week.

There have always been female matadors in Mexico. I viewed a PBS special and one of the women expressed the same things this author did, which surprised me, about feeling the bull was inside her. I though that very strange.

Sometimes the matador loses his nerve; if he does not show a true sense of honor (like Gypsy), the bullfight falls apart and its essence is destroyed. It is savagery at its worse and "the magic is lost." It takes a linked chain of good deeds and superstition to make it work smoothly. Camino would have worked a miracle of passion and beauty. El Viti might have caused the crowd to gasp in wonder. Diego Puerta, highly regarded as the gentleman matador of his era, was testbook-perfect in his performances.

Not many bulls live on; Ferdinand was only a children's book. Torpedo was spared at Seville as being "too brave to kill" and crowned with laurels, as the crowd shouted "Toro, toro" and threw flowers as the matadors took bows. They had made a sacred journey through the streets of Seville, home of Spain's classic arena, carrying heavy floats.

The Gypsy quarter is across the river from Seville. More than five hundred years ago, the first gypsy arrived in Spain "on foot" over the Pyrenees Mountains. One is in this story. This strange novel is full of the pageantry surrouding the running of the bulls and the devout Spaniards who are extremely superstitious and most support the churches. Carlos Ubach sent me castanets and varied souvenirs with paintings of bullfighters in their colorful regalia. How they do worship the sport! Also the beautiful church in Barcelona. No typo -- Carlos is a real person. There was a special on PBS about female matadors and a lot of it came right out of this book. Because of the Spanish War, the women were not allowed to fight the bulls in Spain, and so had to show their prowess in Mexico. One of the best said what Mitchener did, that she felt the bull in her inner being and prayed for courage and honor from her Mother Saint. She must have read this little book.
5.0 out of 5 stars Michener at his best Aug. 16 2013
By Gerald A Falbo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Wonderful story of bullfighting in Spain captures the heart and soul of the corrida and the people who love it.
4.0 out of 5 stars A great one sitting read Aug. 7 2010
By joan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Great story, with lovely illustrations and a parallel thread of Catholic devotion.

I read it one summer evening and thoroughly enjoyed it.

JGR
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