Title: The Barefoot Queen
Author: Ildefonso Falcones
Published: November 25, 2014 (English publication)
Publisher: Crown Publishing
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
When Caridad’s master dies en route from Cuba to Spain, her entire life changes. She suddenly finds herself a freed black slave in a new land with nowhere to go. And she quickly finds that things don’t get easier just because she’s free. When she crosses paths with Milagros, a young gypsy woman, she is somewhat surprised to find someone who shows her compassion. Milagros invites Caridad to come and stay with her and her family–a decision that means changes for Milagros, Caridad, and everyone else around them. What follows is a period of trials and tribulations that causes both women to learn things about themselves and each other they might never have learned otherwise but needed to know. Through tragedy and triumph, love and loss, they find themselves and the true freedom that was waiting just beyond their grasp.
This is an incredibly well-written book. The characters are real and dynamic and Falcones seems to effortlessly paint the world in which they live right onto the page. The range here is great and the story is more than interesting.
That said–this book is LONG. Coming in at 656 pages, one really needs to be committed for the long haul to get through this. Which can be challenging when one gets into some of the more-difficult-to-stomach scenes. And there are some moments where it seems to drag, which made me wonder if it could have been shored up by about 100 pages or so and still have been just as impactful (or even more so).
Definitely worth a read it you’re interested at all in historical fiction–especially 1700s Europe.
CONTENT WARNINGS: violence/murder, sexual abuse/rape, spousal abuse