Sunday, March 7, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: "The Scroll of Seduction"

The Scroll of Seduction
By Gioconda Belli
Copyright 2006
HarperCollins Publishing
Adult Fiction

I picked up this book because it was supposed to be an historical fiction-type read, with main character, Manuel, sharing his knowledge of a historical Spanish queen with a willing pupil. While I did appreciate the historical nature of the story of Queen Juana, the story soon became a little too, ummmm...., statutory for my taste. When Manuel seduces his 17-year-old student, you just know things are not going to end well.

The story of "Juana the Mad", was interesting in a lot of ways, though. Based on historical accounts of the love-obsessed queen, "The Scroll of Seduction" takes you on a journey with a young girl off to meet her betrothed. She considers herself lucky when she immediately falls desperately in love with him. But she soon becomes wracked with jealousy when things turn sour. When Juana's love falls victim to illness, she never quite recovers and those who wish to rule the dynasty that was, in large part, created by her, use her passion and pain as an excuse to hold her captive and leave her helpless in her own kingdom.

But the side plot was, in many ways, quite disturbing. Manuel is a little loony, if you ask me. He wants his student to do some crazy things while he's telling her Juana's story. And, shockingly, she does them. And then one thing leads to another and... yada yada yada.

Sometimes when I read these stories written in another language and translated to English, I am pleasantly surprised at the unique way the story unfolds. This book, however, left something to be desired. In addition to the story having a decided "ick" factor, the way the book ended was off. Like the author didn't know how to resolve everything so she just lit a match.

Don't think I would recommend this one.

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