This historical novel by Spanish radio personality Piqueras looks at the forgotten story of Beatriz Enriquez de Harana, one-time companion and mistress of the widower Christopher Columbus before his great discovery in 1492. Set in Cordoba, the novel describes the social climate of that city, which for many years had been a stronghold of Jewish learning and trade. There is even a suggestion that Beatriz may have been a recent convert to Catholicism owing to the intolerant climate of the Inquisition. The young Beatriz had a son, Hernando, with Columbus in 1488, while the restless navigator sought the necessary funding for his enterprise. After the discovery of the Indies in 1492, Columbus returned to Spain as a celebrity and had little thought for Beatriz. Except for her time with Columbus, Piqueras's description of Beatriz's world is limited, as Beatriz has few thoughts other than her love for the sailor and his children. Piqueras's use of language authentic to the period makes his book a pleasure to read, but otherwise the author does littleto elevate an essentially pedestrian story. The genre of historical novels has recently had many strong contributions, such as Federico Andahazi's El anatomista (The Anatomist, Planeta, 1997). Piqueras's work, however, is not on the same level. Catherine Rendon, Univ. of the Bosporous, Istanbul Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.