Cover image for The barefoot queen : a novel
The barefoot queen : a novel
Falcones de Sierra, Ildefonso, 1959- author.
Uniform Title:
Reina descalza. English
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Crown Publishers, [2014].

Physical Description:
647 pages ; 25 cm
Facing homelessness after the death of her master, Cuban former slave Caridad becomes a freedom fighter at the side of rebellious gypsy Milagros Carmona, with whom she confronts increasingly hostile elements in mid-eighteenth-century Madrid.
General Note:
Translation of: La Reina Descalza.

Published in Spain by Grijalbo, 2013. This translation originally published in Great Britain by Doubleday, 2014.
Added Author:
Format :


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FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
FICTION Adult Fiction Central Library

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A romantic and thrilling historical adventure from the internationally bestselling author whose work Diana Gabaldon has called "Enthralling".

Spain, 1748. Caridad is a recently freed Cuban slave wandering the streets of Seville. Her master is dead and she has nowhere to go. When, by chance, she meets Milagros Carmona--a spellbinding, rebellious gypsy--the two women become inseparable. Caridad is swept into an exotic fringe society full of romance and art, passion and dancing.

But their way of life changes instantly when gypsies are declared outlaws by royal mandate and their world as a free people becomes perilous. The community is split up--some are imprisoned, some forced into hiding, all fearing for their lives. After a dangerous separation, Caridad and Milagros are reunited and join in the gypsies' struggle for sovereignty against the widespread oppression. It's a treacherous battle that cannot, and will not, be easily won.

From the bustle of Seville to the theatres of Madrid, The Barefoot Queen is an unforgettable historical fresco filled with characters that live, suffer, and fight for the lives of those they love, and for the freedom they can't live without.

Author Notes

Ildefonso Falcones is a Spanish lawyer and author who was born in 1958 in Barcelona. His first novel, "Cathedral of the Sea" was published in 2006 and immediately hit the bestseller list. He studied at the College of Jesuits in San Ignacio Spain and earned a law degree. He practices law at his own law firm in Barcelona. He balances his time between work and his love of writing. His other written works include: La mano de Fatima and La Reina Descalza.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In Falcones' newest historical epic, set mostly in Andalusia in the mid-eighteenth century, expressions of cultural pride, artistic exuberance, and unlikely love are enclosed within a dark, research-heavy tale of persecution and blood vengeance. After her former master dies while en route from Havana, Caridad arrives alone in Spain, clearly unused to her new freedom. Her ebony skin quickly attracts unwelcome attention, but she is rescued by Melchor Vega, a Gypsy who draws her into his world of tobacco smuggling in Seville's Triana district, where she befriends his feisty teenage granddaughter, Milagros. She sings with the same pain, Melchor notes, recognizing Caridad as a fellow outcast. The detonation of long-standing family rivalries and a royal mandate demanding the Gypsies' arrest lead to long separations and heartache as they struggle for their liberty. Caridad and Milagros are robust characters, both resilient and sensual yet equally powerless in their male-dominated country. Exciting in places, slow and meandering in others, this lengthy novel demands commitment, but its multifaceted look at Gypsy life and morality is vivid and memorable.--Johnson, Sarah Copyright 2014 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Falcones follows The Cathedral of the Sea with a ponderous novel about two female friends, both strong and yet disenfranchised in 1748 Spain. Former slave Caridad lands penniless in Seville after her owner dies on the voyage from Cuba. Milagros Carmona is the beloved granddaughter of Melchor Vega, the gypsy who gives Caridad a temporary home that soon becomes permanent. Fearful Caridad bonds with Milagros and accustoms herself to gypsy life, finding work with the smuggled tobacco they sell, while Milagros struggles to accept the marriage her parents arrange. Milagros's fiancé is killed after she urges him to take revenge on a payo, or nongypsy, who has victimized Caridad, and the clan punishes Milagros for causing his death. Then Spain's king outlaws gypsy culture, scattering the family and the community. After the decree is gradually lifted, Milagros's singing and dancing talents make her famous, but the man she loves proves to be a cruelly abusive husband. When Melchor vows vengeance against Milagros's abuser, both Melchor's life and Caridad's the deep love for him are put at risk. This story lacks the focus and momentum that made Falcones's last novel so successful. She powerfully evokes the time and place, but the narrative is overly broad and slow-moving. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

This massive work of historical fiction is Spanish author Falcones's second book to be translated into English (after Cathedral of the Sea). Caridad, a Cuban slave who attained freedom when her master died on the voyage to Spain, is taken in by Melchor Vega, a gypsy who lives a precarious existence in Seville in the 1740s. Melchor's granddaughter, Milagros, pities the passive Caridad and takes it upon herself to teach her the gypsy ways. The story follows Caridad and the Vega family as their lives take a bad turn after a royal mandate declares all gypsies to be outlaws. Caridad's knowledge of tobacco, which is highly prized, and Milagros's beautiful voice lead them down different but equally treacherous paths. Throughout the course of the story, mishaps constantly befall the main characters, lending a tone of hopelessness and near despair. VERDICT Falcones delivers a strong sense of place and history, but repetitive phrases and anachronisms (a character is said to be "off doing his thing") as well as graphic depictions of rape, torture, and violence weigh the story down. While some historical fiction fans may enjoy this tale of 18th-century Spain, it is not recommended for most readers. [See Prepub Alert, 6/2/14.]-Terry Lucas, Rogers Memorial Lib., Southampton, NY (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.