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The Forgetting River: A Modern Tale of Survival, Identity, and the Inquisitionby Doreen Carvajal
Synopses & Reviews
The unexpected and moving story of an American journalist who works to uncover her family’s long-buried Jewish ancestry in Spain.
Raised a Catholic in California, New York Times journalist Doreen Carvajal is shocked when she discovers that her background may actually be connected to conversos from Inquisition-era Spain: Jews who were forced to renounce their faith and convert to Christianity or face torture and death. With vivid childhood memories of Sunday sermons, catechism, and the rosary, Carvajal travels to the centuries-old Andalucian town of Arcos de la Frontera, to investigate her lineage and recover her family’s original religious heritage.
In Arcos, Carvajal comes to realize that fear remains a legacy of the Inquisition along with the cryptic messages left by its victims. Back at her childhood home in California, she uncovers papers documenting a family of Carvajals who were burned at the stake in the 16th-century territory of Mexico. Could the author’s family history be linked to the hidden history of Arcos? And could the unfortunate Carvajals have been her ancestors?
As she strives to find proof that her family had been forced to convert to Christianity six hundred years ago, Carvajal comes to understand that the past flows like a river through time—and that while the truth might be submerged, it is never truly lost.
"Despite growing up Catholic, Carvajal never sensed the familial connection with the religion she believed she should have felt. Unable to shake that feeling, Carvajal, a Paris-based reporter for the New York Times and International Herald Tribune, moved to the old Spanish town of Arcos de la Frontera in search of her family's 'discarded identity,' believing the family was connected to the Spanish Inquisition and expulsion of Jews from Spain in the 15th and 16th centuries. As an outsider, she is slow to crack the secretive and ritualistic community, but her skills as a reporter and passion for knowledge eventually allow her to find clues hidden in plain sight in the local music, food, and architecture that point to the region's concealed Jewish history as well as her own relationship to her new hometown. Just like her ancestors, her tale wanders the globe from the dusty archives at a California university, a DNA lab in Texas, a lawyer in Costa Rica, and a nearly 200-year-old Paris synagogue, but Carvajal's powerful prose is strong enough to hold these divergent story lines in a cohesive and engaging narrative of self-discovery and historical investigation." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Doreen Carvajal�is a Paris-based reporter for the�The New York Times�and a senior writer for the�International Herald Tribune�covering European issues. She has more than 25 years of journalism experience covering a broad range of subjects, from politics and immigration to book publishing and the media. She lives with her family near Paris.
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