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Malinche    by Laura Esquivel order for
by Laura Esquivel
Order:  USA  Can
Atria, 2006 (2006)
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* *   Reviewed by Kerrily Sapet

The author of Like Water for Chocolate is back. Laura Esquivel's latest book delves into the conquest of the Aztec empire. In Malinche, Esquivel chronicles the tragic and emotional love affair between Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés and his native interpreter Malinalli.

The sweeping book opens with Malinalli's birth. Her life and her name are tied to the elements. Abandoned by her mother, Malinalli is tutored and deeply loved by her blind grandmother. At her grandmother's death, Malinalli is sold into slavery. A member of a tribe conquered by Aztec warriors, her life changes forever when the Spaniards arrive. Malinalli, like many, believes that Cortés is the reincarnated god of her tribe. By acting as a mediator, she takes on the task of helping Cortés destroy the Aztec emperor Montezuma, in hopes of freeing her people. While the two fall in love, Malinalli soon realizes that Cortés's lust for power and gold is all too human. He will stop at nothing to succeed.

Malinalli has for years been reviled for betraying her Indian people. Esquivel shows a different twist, emphasizing Malinalli's role and personal struggles as mediator between two vastly different cultures and languages. Vividly written, the book is complete with a fascinating codex, or epic poem of images, similar to that which Malinalli may have painted. Esquivel's typically lyrical style suits this book well as readers are transported back into a different time and world, from a point of view never told before.

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