El Rey: A Novel of Renaissance Iberia by Ginger Myrick. (self published), 2011. 526p. (ASIN: B006C9ZW2E)
I really, really enjoyed this story. Loved the characters, loved the plot twists and turns, loved the formatting of the e-book, loved getting a glimpse of 16th century Spain. Several months ago I won a copy from the author and since it’s a long story I waited until I had an e-reader to read it on. I shouldn’t have waited, it’s a great book. (Though my eyes are probably grateful I didn’t read it on a computer screen…)
Goodreads summary (condensed):
Written in the tradition of classic period romance and set against the backdrop of 16th century Portugal and Spain at the dawn of the dynamic Age of Exploration. At its core is the turbulent love story between Inez García and El Rey.
Inez is the outspoken, independent daughter of a wealthy merchant who fled the Spanish Inquisition and a domineering mother of English noble stock with secrets of her own. At a dinner party in his honor, she falls in love with El Rey, a dashing, charismatic sea captain with a golden voice who has spent his life expanding the Portuguese empire. Inez and El Rey strike up an immediate friendship, though misfortune, class prejudice and foolish pride conspire to keep them apart.
But it is much, much more than just a love story. EL REY is a sweeping family saga. Interwoven are four meticulously researched narratives representative of the time.* [And they’re so well woven in that I don’t remember them!]
Spanning three continents and two centuries in the history of the warring kingdoms of mediaeval Portugal and Castile, the vignettes chronicle the heroic struggles of three families to overcome racial discrimination, murder, plague, war and the Spanish Inquisition. Filled with food and travel, and tempered with humor, tenderness, and tragedy, this intriguing story tells the timeless tale of the triumph of true love and the resilience of the human spirit.
* EL REY also comes in an abridged version for those readers who prefer a more concise telling of the precipitating events culminating in the state of affairs of the era. [And according to the author's website, she has turned some of the other characters' stories into novellettes.]
This was definitely a book I could not read in one sitting, which was very enjoyable as I got to spend several days with Inez and rejoice with her and sink with her to the depths of despair (to borrow Anne Shirley’s phrase). Rarely does a book cover the entire life of a character, but this one does and it was wonderful.
Some might complain about the length of the story or get lost amongst the many characters, but I think Ginger did an excellent job relating Inez’s story and tying in the life lessons of the people around her. Most of the characters are well written and as I write this a month or two after finishing the book I’m finding myself replaying various scenes and seeing the characters that appear in them.
One lesson that the reader can come away with is to speak up, don’t let your stubborn, foolish pride stand in the way. You never know how irreversible and miserable a situation may become if you don’t. Especially when it’s about matters of the heart. Inez learned this the very hard way, but managed to overcome and carry on.
Regarding the e-book formatting, at the end of each chapter is a little image of a rabbit which was quite fun to see. There is an index as well.
Thank you so much Ginger for allowing me to read and review your book! I loved it!
Go read it! Buy it from Amazon
Disclosure: I received this book from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
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