The Forgetting River: A Modern Tale of Survival, Identity, and the Inquisition

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Penguin, Aug 16, 2012 - Biography & Autobiography - 336 pages
13 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 in 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 south of Spain, 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 is struck by the white pueblo's ancient beauty and the difficulty she encounters in probing the town's own secret history of the Inquisition. She 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, Carvajal 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.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - rainpebble - LibraryThing

I had such high hopes for this book when I began reading it and was so excited to read it. It is the true story of a journalist who is searching for Jewish roots that she believes lie hidden somewhere ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - laytonwoman3rd - LibraryThing

I marked a few passages, and made a few notes in the margins of the ARC of this book as I read it, but when it came to drawing my thoughts together I found there was not all that much to say about The ... Read full review


ONE Ancient Voices
THREE First Impressions
SIX The Enchantment ofFear
EIGHT AnUnfaithful Catholic
SIXTEEN Return to the Ottoman Empire
NINETEEN Below theRoses

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About the author (2012)

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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