Today’s historical fiction novel review is a guest post by Dr. Michele Shaul, Professor, Queens University of Charlotte, Department of Foreign Languages. I am delighted and honoured Dr. Shaul requested a guest spot for her review of Sandra Ramos O’Briant’s The Sandoval Sisters’ Secret of Old Blood.
So, with no further ado, Dr. Shaul’s review!
Sandra Ramos O’Briant’s debut novel The Sandoval Sisters’ Secret of Old Blood sets the stage for a fascinating series about Anglo/Hispanic interaction in Santa Fe and the struggle to control the Santa Fe Trail. The author introduces the Sandoval sisters Oratoria, Pilar and Alma who are independent and resistant to the restrictions placed on women in that place and time. Each controls her own destiny, making unconventional choices and always standing by family and friends.
Told in the sisters’ voices, the reader learns of each woman’s loves and losses and follows them on their trail to the end of the novel when the sisters need to come together to preserve their lands and livelihood from the new legal system that threatens the patrimony of many in what is now the Southwest United States.
Oratoria, the eldest, is not a sister by blood. Purchased at age five for the price of a bag of flour, Oratoria was originally Estevan’s gift to his lonely sixteen-year-old bride. Oratoria becomes a family favorite and indispensable to them all, truly integrated as a family member. She is the keeper of the old diaries that provide insight into the Sandoval heritage as well as instruction on cures and spells. She raises her sisters, making sure they are educated and independent thinkers. She is there when they need her and sacrifices herself to protect their livelihood.
Headstrong Alma, determined to not marry her father’s choice for her, runs off with the love of her life (Bill) only to discover once they arrive at his family home that she really does not know him as well as she thought. Cultural clashes between her Spanish background and his Anglo family, clashes with his domineering, mean spirited mother and betrayal by a woman she believed was her friend present the reader with an interesting read and better understanding of the climate of the times and the challenges faced by those who married across boundaries.
The youngest sister Pilar is more of a free spirit than the other two sisters yet she is most suited to marriage to Alma’s rejected elderly suitor, Geraldo. Because of his patience and maturity, Geraldo provides Pilar the blessing of love but more importantly, independence and autonomy. Pilar is able to fend for herself (and others) upon his death. She is more than up to the challenge presented by being one of the landed, moneyed families of the region.
Woven among the stories of love and life is eroticism, mystery, witchcraft, folktales, superstition, political intrigue, corruption, violence, and told with a fluid style that grabs you from the first page and leaves you hungry for more at the end.
Many thanks to Dr. Shaul for her review of The Sandoval Sisters’ Secret of Old Blood.
Sandra has generously offered to give an autographed copy of The Sandoval Sisters’ Secret of Old Blood to one of the lucky readers who leave comments about what makes Santa Fe, New Mexico - a setting in her novel - special.
You need not have visited Santa Fe personally to leave a comment. Tell us one particular place you’d like to see in Santa Fe and why or, if you’ve been, tell us your favourite sight and why.
Yours truly will put names in a hat and hold it at arm’s length for my husband to draw the winner! Give-a-way ends Saturday, December 15, 2012.
Caveat Emptor – I must confess I have not yet had an opportunity to read Sandra’s debut novel so, therefore, I cannot rate or voice an opinion about the The Sandoval Sisters’ Secret of Old Blood. That said, I feel sure Dr. Shaul is much more qualified than I!
I am an authorized Amazon Associate. The Sandoval Sisters’ Secret of Old Blood may be puchased through the link below. The Kindle Edition is listed at $9.99 (price subject to change).