Winner of the 1999 Spanish literary prize, the Premio Nacional de Narrative, Delibes's assured historical novel takes place in the Spanish city of Valladolid, where Cipriano Salcedo is born on October 31, 1517, the same day Martin Luther nails his 95 theses to a church door in Wittenberg. Deprived of his mother, who dies shortly after childbirth, and alienated from his self-absorbed father, Cipriano grows up a wealthy bourgeois tormented by an overly acute conscience. He marries Teodomira, an earthy daughter of a sheep farmer who ultimately suffers a pitiful fate. After meeting theologians Agust n, Pedro Cazalla and Don Carlos de Seso, Cipriano converts to Lutheranism and quickly becomes a leading member of the local underground Protestant Reformation, working to win other converts and even traveling to Germany for the movement. When the Inquisition arrests a sect member, the entire group-including Cipriano-is exposed and all are arrested. Delibes (The Hedge, etc.) weaves an engrossing tapestry of historical and theological minutiae, but the character of Cipriano is an allegorical, everyman figure. The real protagonist of this novel is the 16th-century incarnation of the author's hometown, Valladolid, which he recreates in lucid detail. (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Delibes (b. 1920), the author of more than 50 books, tells a tale that shows how Catholic Spain contrived to withstand the landslide of Lutheranism. On the very day that Luther proclaims his 95 theses at Wittenberg, a child named Cipriano Salcedo is born in Valladolid, Spain, and is destined to join the Protestant movement there. The new Christians meet secretly at great risk, sharing the belief that faith alone (without good works) guarantees salvation as well as disbelief in purgatory and the worship of relics. The Inquisition is now being zealously implemented because Emperor Charles V, sorry that he did not execute Luther when he had the chance, has charged his son Philip II to compensate for his error. The novel is not at all gruesome until the larger-than-life penitential "ceremony" at the very end, and its appeal resides in the vivid details of Cipriano's everyday 16th-century life, such as his career in business and fashion, his failed marriage, and the insanity and institutionalization of his wife. Recommended for all readers of historical fiction.-Jack Shreve, Allegany Coll. of Maryland, Cumberland Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Spanish novelist Delibes (The Wars of Our Ancestors, 1992, etc.) fashions a poignant, although pale and rather bloated encomium to the early Reformation history of his hometown, Valladolid. In the mid-16th century, this northwestern Castilian city was home to many Protestant dissenters chafing against the strictures of the Inquisition. Delibes's story concerns Cipriano Salcedo, son of thin-blooded, well-to-do businessman Bernardo Salcedo, and his beautiful wife Catalina, who died after giving birth to her only child. The boy's early years are hardly noteworthy; indeed, the author devotes more attention to widowed Bernardo's heated efforts to find a suitable bedfellow, ultimately successful when 15-year-old virgin Petra Gregorio turns out to be a sexual dynamo. Delibes does take a moment to introduce Cipriano's peasant nurse Minervina, who will play a part in his later history when he is judged a heretic and condemned to burn at the stake. First, however, Cipriano grows up and marries, then experiences the same fertility problem as his father. His wife dies, and Cipriano gradually entangles himself in the secretive local Protestant society led by Doctor Cazalla. Its shadowy adherents believe they are following the clandestine tradition of the apostles and the Christians in the catacombs. At their dangerous meetings, Cipriano learns to accept the Protestant party line: Purgatory doesn't exist, nuns and priests cannot be held to celibacy, confession should not be spoken aloud. He embarks on perilous journeys as proselytizer, supervising the printing of anti-papal documents and expounding his beliefs at various far-flung convents. In the end, the Holy Office prevails; the heretical society isbetrayed by one of its own. More history lesson than stylish fiction.