Calligraphy of the Witch: A Novel

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Macmillan, Oct 16, 2007 - Fiction - 373 pages
2 Reviews

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 the Neptune, 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.

 

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Calligraphy of the witch

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This historical novel, set in late 17th-century New England during the Salem witch trials, is an emotional but muddled story of a Latina woman who has everything important taken away from her. Over ... Read full review

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beautifulVeronica **...
It is a fascinating novel. However...so cruel to a woman that actually become the "victim" of unrelated circumstances to her real Identity.
Sort of...her ugly Odyssey...was
a true unfortunate event, and sadly back in the day there was NO respect for women.
Not even the LADY OF THE HOUSE was treated like a woman worthy of fidelity or as an equal mate.
Very sad novel...Imagine "the true tyranny" against females in those times?
....And sadly...although we are in the 21 Century...Year 2013, there still is, in some parts of the world and even in our own Society... traces of this unacceptable behavior towards women.
Sad...but true!!!
 

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Page xii - I have been her kind. I have ridden in your cart, driver, waved my nude arms at villages going by, learning the last bright routes, survivor where your flames still bite my thigh and my ribs crack where your wheels wind. A woman like that is not ashamed to die. I have been her kind.

About the author (2007)

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.

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