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Calligraphy of the Witch

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Calligraphy of the Witch Cover

ISBN13: 9780312366414
ISBN10: 0312366418
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Mexico, 1683. When Concepción Benavidez flees her indenture from the convent of San Jerónimo in Mexico City and sets out to join a band of refugee slaves along with her friend Aléndula, the two are captured by buccaneers in Vera Cruz led by the famed Laurens-Cornille de Graaf, who is running a slave- and provisions ship headed for New England. Aléndula dies on the journey, but Concepción, upon arrival, is renamed Thankful Seagraves and sold to a Boston merchant, Nathaniel Greenwood, who plans to have her care for his crippled father-in-law and manage the Old Man’s chicken farm. Delirious, half-starved, and terrified by her ordeal on board theNeptune, during which the Captain raped her repeatedly, Thankful Seagraves gives birth to a daughter, coveted by Rebecca, Nathaniel's fallow wife, and over the next eight years struggles to adapt herself into English colonial life. With great difficulty she attempts to raise her daughter in the faith and language of New Spain and thus forge a connection between herself and the girl even while Rebecca slowly turns Hanna against her. Like her friend, Tituba Indian, Concepción is a perpetual outsider — her mixed-race looks as well as her accent and her Catholic background set her apart — and before long she gets swept up in the hysteria of the Salem witchcraft trials of 1692, culminating in a shocking accusation by her own daughter, who renounces her mother and declares her a witch.

Review:

"A spirited indentured servant gets tangled up in the 17th-century Massachusetts Bay Colony witch hunts in this ambitious historical drama. Halfway through her 15-year indenture at a Mexico City convent, Concepcin Benavidez escapes only to be captured by pirates and taken to Boston, where she's sold into slavery. Nathaniel Greenwood, a local merchant, is impressed that the 'papist slave' can write and purchases her to help his disabled father-in-law manage his chicken farm. Renamed Thankful Seagraves, Concepcin, who was repeatedly raped by the pirate captain, soon discovers that she's pregnant. Greenwood's barren wife, Rebecca, covets Concepcin's newborn daughter, Hanna, and sets out to take her away. As their struggle over the girl unfolds, witch hysteria grips the colony, and Concepcin is drawn into the fray when Hanna fingers her for a witch. De Alba's recreation is undercut by thin characterizations — the men are mostly cruel and the women victims, the notable exception being Concepcin, who clings to her dignity under the most trying conditions. But De Alba (Sor Juana's Second Dream) has a firm grasp of her historical material and portrays the pirate life as convincingly as the witch trials. Readers interested in the period will want to give this a look." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"[A] book of historical detail and poetic precision. Gaspar de Alba's magic is that her story humanizes the witch hunts of 1692, and, in turn, the witch hunts of today." Sandra Cisneros, author of Caramelo, The House on Mango Street and Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories

Review:

"Get ready for a new kind of superhero: Alicia Gaspar de Alba's Calligraphy of the Witch tells the tale of the magnificent Concepción, a Mexican amanuensis to Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, who is stolen from Mexico and sold as a slave in 17th century Massachusetts. Renamed Thankful Seagraves, Concepción uses her wit and her enormous strength to survive the perils of this witchburning country, braving brigands, inquisitors, and even the white woman who would steal her only daughter, Jeronima. Gaspar de Alba has given us a vivid, beautifully told tale of pirates, rebels, passion, mother-daughter love, and the eternal search for freedom. Read Calligraphy of the Witch and enter the mysteries of an untold history." Yxta Maya Murray, author of The Queen Jade, The Conquest, Locas, and What It Takes to Get to Vegas

Review:

"Alicia Gaspar de Alba has offered a passionate, dynamic view of 17th century New England when Salem's witch trials accused independent-minded women of crimes they did not commit. Superbly plotted, Calligraphy of the Witch is a journey of the heart in which a mother and a daughter must negotiate unjust cultural conflicts between New England and New Spain. The historical precision in the novel crafts the era's mood, creating a world in which characters real and fictional are equally as genuine. Gaspar de Alba proves again that she is a meticulous historical novelist who understands how to write a complex, suspenseful story that also remarks upon our present." Emma Pérez, historian and author of Gulf Dreams

Review:

"de Alba's Puritans are as rich and complex as any characters in recent historical fiction." Kirkus Reviews

Synopsis:

Thoroughly researched and well-paced, this rich historical novel tells the story of a Latina slave who is swept up in the Salem witchcraft trials by an excruciating act of betrayal.

About the Author

Alicia Gaspar de Alba is a professor and Chair of the César E. Chavez Department for Chicana/Chicano Studies at UCLA. She is the author of Desert Blood: The Juarez Murders, and Sor Juana's Second Dream and lives in Los Angeles, California.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Audrey Starkey, September 10, 2008 (view all comments by Audrey Starkey)
Rarely does a novel awaken all my senses, and stirs every emotion possible in the human soul. It is definately a story I will not soon forget, and definately will be remembered as one of my favorite novels.

This is a historical novel which happens in the late 1600's during the famous Salem Witch trials. Concepcion is a bastard child born to a Mexican government official and an Indian mother. Abandoned by her mother in Mexico after she had been indentured to a nun convent, Concepcion runs away with a friend only to be seized by Pirates and taken to New England. She arrives in New England pregnant after being repeatedly raped by the ships Captain.

The captain discovers her gift of calligraphy, renames her Thankful Seagraves, and sells her to a Boston merchant who plans to have her manage her father-in-laws farm while caring for the crippled man. Unable to speak English, deathly ill and terrified, Thankful gives birth to a daughter whom her owner's wife covets.

For 8 years Thankful and her daughter are pulled between two worlds. Although she proves herself in her ability to care for the crippled man, learns to speak and write English and brings profits to the farm, she is considered unacceptable as a bi-racial servent who speaks a foreign language and is Catholic. Rebecca, her owners wife, slowly turns her daughter against her.

Throughout the novel, Concepcion keeps a journal that she hopes one day will be read by the daughter she loves so much. The journal gives you insight into what life was like in the 1600's.

When the hysteria of the Salem withcraft trials begin, Capcion's own daughter implicates her as a witch, sending her to the cold, filthy dungeons. The ending is bittersweet, creating a surge of emotions for readers.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780312366414
Subtitle:
A Novel
Author:
de Alba, Alicia Gaspar
Author:
Gaspar De Alba, Alicia
Author:
Alba, Alicia Gaspar De
Author:
de, Alicia Gaspar
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Subject:
Historical
Subject:
Historical - General
Subject:
History
Subject:
Mothers and daughters
Subject:
Historical fiction
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20071016
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
384
Dimensions:
9.09 x 6.74 x 1.31 in 1 lb

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Calligraphy of the Witch Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$8.50 In Stock
Product details 384 pages St. Martin's Press - English 9780312366414 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "A spirited indentured servant gets tangled up in the 17th-century Massachusetts Bay Colony witch hunts in this ambitious historical drama. Halfway through her 15-year indenture at a Mexico City convent, Concepcin Benavidez escapes only to be captured by pirates and taken to Boston, where she's sold into slavery. Nathaniel Greenwood, a local merchant, is impressed that the 'papist slave' can write and purchases her to help his disabled father-in-law manage his chicken farm. Renamed Thankful Seagraves, Concepcin, who was repeatedly raped by the pirate captain, soon discovers that she's pregnant. Greenwood's barren wife, Rebecca, covets Concepcin's newborn daughter, Hanna, and sets out to take her away. As their struggle over the girl unfolds, witch hysteria grips the colony, and Concepcin is drawn into the fray when Hanna fingers her for a witch. De Alba's recreation is undercut by thin characterizations — the men are mostly cruel and the women victims, the notable exception being Concepcin, who clings to her dignity under the most trying conditions. But De Alba (Sor Juana's Second Dream) has a firm grasp of her historical material and portrays the pirate life as convincingly as the witch trials. Readers interested in the period will want to give this a look." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "[A] book of historical detail and poetic precision. Gaspar de Alba's magic is that her story humanizes the witch hunts of 1692, and, in turn, the witch hunts of today." Sandra Cisneros, author of Caramelo, The House on Mango Street and Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories
"Review" by , "Get ready for a new kind of superhero: Alicia Gaspar de Alba's Calligraphy of the Witch tells the tale of the magnificent Concepción, a Mexican amanuensis to Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, who is stolen from Mexico and sold as a slave in 17th century Massachusetts. Renamed Thankful Seagraves, Concepción uses her wit and her enormous strength to survive the perils of this witchburning country, braving brigands, inquisitors, and even the white woman who would steal her only daughter, Jeronima. Gaspar de Alba has given us a vivid, beautifully told tale of pirates, rebels, passion, mother-daughter love, and the eternal search for freedom. Read Calligraphy of the Witch and enter the mysteries of an untold history."
"Review" by , "Alicia Gaspar de Alba has offered a passionate, dynamic view of 17th century New England when Salem's witch trials accused independent-minded women of crimes they did not commit. Superbly plotted, Calligraphy of the Witch is a journey of the heart in which a mother and a daughter must negotiate unjust cultural conflicts between New England and New Spain. The historical precision in the novel crafts the era's mood, creating a world in which characters real and fictional are equally as genuine. Gaspar de Alba proves again that she is a meticulous historical novelist who understands how to write a complex, suspenseful story that also remarks upon our present."
"Review" by , "de Alba's Puritans are as rich and complex as any characters in recent historical fiction."
"Synopsis" by , Thoroughly researched and well-paced, this rich historical novel tells the story of a Latina slave who is swept up in the Salem witchcraft trials by an excruciating act of betrayal.
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