This is such a brilliant combination of historical and women’s fiction, as well as a tribute to Jane Austen’s Persuasion. It begins in England in the Regency era and travels to Buenos Aires, in the beginnings of a fight for the South American colonies’ independence from Spain.
Brilliant, but unable to go to college because she is a woman, Abigail Isaacs has few choices other than to study astronomy in her comfortable English home. However, upon the death of her father, Abigail writes to her brother Jonathan, who is serving on a ship called The Argo. Unfortunately she is told by none other than Austen character Captain Wentworth that her brother, a friend of Wentworth’s, has just passed away under violent circumstances because he was Jewish. Abigail is surprised to find out that her late father and brother had invested in property in South America, and that they were part of a secret society that wants to free Buenos Aires from Spanish rule. She eventually decides to travel to Buenos Aires on the frigate George Canning, along with her loyal companion, Mrs. Frankel. They are also accompanied by her brother’s associates, José Francisco de San Martín and Raphael Gabay de Montoya. St Martin and Montoya are part of a Freemason-affiliated secret society interested in freeing Buenos Aires from Spanish rule.
I was immediately transported to the Regency era in Britain, and then to South America at the time of Spanish rule. The characters all came to life and the places were described in such vivid detail that I felt as if I were there. The descriptions of the ship voyage were especially real and fascinating. The customs, rules, and prejudices of the Regency era were described in sometimes painful detail, especially the racism against Jews, which was evident in circumstances that occurred early in the book. Jewish traditions, terms, and customs are explained throughout this captivating novel.
The bow to Jane Austen comes not only in the inclusion of Wentworth, but also in the language and tone of the book. There is also a surprise in the book that nobody will see coming.
I was blown away by the author’s remarkable ability to write a prequel to Persuasion, add in Jewish traditions and history, expertly combine historical, literary, and fictional characters, and eloquently surround it all with the South American independence movement. I would highly recommend this to fans of Jewish and South American historical fiction, as well as to readers who love strong female characters.
I received a free copy of this book from the author. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mirta is a second generation Argentine; she was born in Buenos Aires in 1962 and immigrated to the United States that same year. Because of the unique fringe benefits provided by her father’s employer- Pan American Airlines- she returned to her native country frequently- growing up with “un pie acá, y un pie allá” (with one foot here and one foot there).
Mirta’s fascination with Jewish history and genealogy, coupled with an obsession for historical period drama, has inspired her to create unique and enlightening novels. She has been a guest speaker for book clubs, sisterhood events, genealogy societies and philanthropic organizations. Sharing her knowledge of Jewish Argentina has become her passion.
Besides being an avid novel reader, she has had a lifelong love for choral music and is a devoted Beatles fan. Follow Mirta on Amazon, Goodreads, Pinterest and Instagram for interesting tidbits and photos.