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La mano de Fátima

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  • Posted October 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The book is a combination of the story of Hernando Ruíz and an very poor attempt by the author to find reconciliation between Muslims and Christians. The combination does not work and it creates a painful experience for the reader.

    This is the story of Hernando Ruíz, or Ibn Hamid, the bastard son of a Catholic priest and a muslin woman, Aisha. The period is the second half of the XVIth century (the book covers the periods from December 1568 to 1612) in Spain. Since 1498, when the moors were expelled from Spain, they become a minority that is abused and oppressed by the new rulers of the land--the Christians. Hernando will represent all the tragedies that both parties will inflict on each other.

    Aisha later married a Muslim man, José, or Brajín, who bears him four more children: Musa, Zahara, Aquil, and Ruiza--two boys and two girls. Brajín barely tolerates his wife's bastard son--who has clear blue eyes--and is nickname the Nazarene by both Muslims and Christians and rejected by both cultures.

    Tired of the Catholic abuse, the moors rebelled in the town of Júviles (near Granada) in 1568, massacring thousands of Christians and burning their Churches. Hernando is part of the rebellion. But he manages to save the lives Alfonso de Córdova the duke of Monterreal, and Isabel, a small blonde child whose brother was dismembered by the Muslim crowd.

    Phillip second crushes the rebellion and this time it is the Muslims who are massacred by the Christians. Hernando is torn by the cruelty of the two faiths he belongs to--and dominates perfectly well--until he meets Fátima, who he falls madly in love. Brajín, his stepfather desires Fátima and sells his stepson as a slave to the Turks and marries Fátima. Later Fátima divorces Brajín and marries Hernando, giving him children. But Brajín goes to Tunis where he sets shop as a pirate and kidnaps Fátima and her children. Aisha, Hernando's mother lies to him and tells him that Fátima is dead and so are her sons.

    After the defeat, Hernando is deported to Córdova, where he starts a new life, marries a Christian wife and makes an attempt through a convoluted plan of false documents and the cult of the Virgin Mary--which is shared by both Muslims and Catholics--to achieve peace and harmony between the two religions.

    Ironically, this reconciliatory movement could be applied today, where religious differences are causing so much suffering and havoc.

    This is Falcones second novel. After The Cathedral of the Sea, (La Catedral del Mar) which I consider a masterpiece, I was quite disillusioned by his second novel. He is suffering from "second novel syndrome": going from 672 pages on her first novel to 955 on the second.

    Whereas in La Catedral del Mar loyalty, vengeance, treason, love, disease, and war mix in a world marked by religious intolerance, ambition, and social status--there is Fátima's Hand suffers from verbiage that has very little reason to be. Two many characters, too many love interests, losing the wife, gaining the wife. His mother lying to him to ruin his life--the drama is intolerable. I wanted the book to be over by the 300th page.

    The book is a combination of the story of Hernando Ruíz and an very poor attempt by the author to find reconciliation between Muslims and Christians. The combination does not work and it creates a painful experience for the reader.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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