From Publishers Weekly
Winner of the 1999 Spanish literary prize, the Premio Nacional de Narrative
, Delibes's assured historical novel takes place in the Spanish city of Valladolid, where Cipriano Salcedo is born on October 31, 1517, the same day Martin Luther nails his 95 theses to a church door in Wittenberg. Deprived of his mother, who dies shortly after childbirth, and alienated from his self-absorbed father, Cipriano grows up a wealthy bourgeois tormented by an overly acute conscience. He marries Teodomira, an earthy daughter of a sheep farmer who ultimately suffers a pitiful fate. After meeting theologians Agustín, Pedro Cazalla and Don Carlos de Seso, Cipriano converts to Lutheranism and quickly becomes a leading member of the local underground Protestant Reformation, working to win other converts and even traveling to Germany for the movement. When the Inquisition arrests a sect member, the entire group—including Cipriano—is exposed and all are arrested. Delibes (The Hedge
, etc.) weaves an engrossing tapestry of historical and theological minutiae, but the character of Cipriano is an allegorical, everyman figure. The real protagonist of this novel is the 16th-century incarnation of the author's hometown, Valladolid, which he recreates in lucid detail. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Winner of the Premio Nacional de Narrative, Spain's most prestigious literary prize, this novel seeks to illuminate the Spanish Inquisition through the story of one man. Cipriano Salcedo, born on the same day in 1517 that Luther posts his theses, is loved only by his wet nurse (his father blames him for his mother's death after childbirth) but becomes a man of wealth and status in his native Valladolid, his adult life marred only by his failed marriage. Seeking moral perfection, he listens to clergy who accept Luther's doctrines, meets secretly with other "new Christians," and undertakes a dangerous mission to Germany to see Reformers and buy Lutheran books. The novel opens with a prelude of Salcedo's return from Germany, picking up chronologically at the last chapter, as arrests of group members begin. However, the prelude is short of background for the reader; together with the extensive use of dialogue instead of narrative and the sheer level of detail, this dilutes the drama of the story. Dense with historical fact and figures; impressive but limitedly compelling. Michele LeberCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved