The Scroll of Seduction
By Gioconda Belli
(Rayo, Hardcover, 9780060833121, 336pp.)
Publication Date: September 2006
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Manuel is a man of many talents; an art historian and professor, he is also an exquisite storyteller. When he meets 16-year-old Lucia on an outing from her boarding school, he offers to narrate a story of dire consequences--that of the Spanish Queen Juana of Castile and her legendary love for her husband, Philippe the Handsome.
Promised to Prince Philippe the Handsome to solidify ties between the Flemish and Spanish crowns, Queen Juana immediately fell in love with her betrothed with all the abandon and passion of her fiery personality. Theirs was one of the most tumultuous love stories of all time.
But Juana, who was also one of the most learned princesses of the Renaissance, was forced to pay a high price for being headstrong and daring to be herself. Those at court who could not fathom Juana as heir to the throne of the most important empire of its day conspired against her and began to question her sanity. Eventually she came to be known as Juana the Mad. But was she really insane, or just a victim of her impetuosity and unbridled passion?
As the novel unfolds, Lucia and Manuel become enmeshed in a complex psychological web that seduces and incites them to relive Juana and Philippe's story, and eventually leads them to a mysterious manuscript that may hold the key to Juana's alleged madness.
Praise for THE COUNTRY UNDER MY SKIN
“A poetic, penetrating and revelatory tale of love and war, literature and politics. . .lyrical, dramatic and incisive, Belli’s soulful self-portrait and paean to her beautiful, beleagured country is at once timely and timeless, tragic and life-affirming.”
-The Chicago Tribune
“Love and revolution have rarely been so splendidly and provocatively intertwined than in this heretic memoir of a woman’s sensual and intellectual voyage of self-discovery in Nicaragua.”
“Gioconda Belli’s memoir reads better than a novel. It recounts her larger-than-life experiences as a revolutionary, lover, and mother with honesty, passion, intelligence and, above all, poetry. The Country Under My Skin is as much the story of Nicaragua as it is one extraordinary woman’s dreams.”
“Unravels [the] contradictions. . .all too common among powerful women–with characteristic candor and dignity. . .Often joyous, surprisingly fluid.”
“Engaging. . .When Belli speaks from the depths of her woman’s insight. . . her prose pierces the heart. . .A window to one woman’s extraordinary journey.”
-San Antonio Express-News
“A surprisingly frank picture of the movement. . .Belli presents a complex picture, revealing the ego clashes and massive blunders as well as moments of incredible bravery under fire.”
-Los Angeles Magazine
“Belli recalls with engaging candor the course of a life lived to the full. In its twist and turns, moments of danger followed by intense romantic encounters, Belli’s memoir can resemble exuberant historical fiction. . A luminously written, always insightful account of one woman’s encounter with personal and political liberation.”
“A lush memoir.…both intensely personal and informatively political.…An honest, insider’s account of the very real debates surrounding this major revolution would be valuable in itself, but Belli offers more: a frank examination of her struggle for love.”
“A tribute to beauty, valor, and justice. Belli’s giving and clarion book is also an antidote to fear and apathy, and a reminder that freedom is always a work in progress.”
“Romantic and engaging.”
-Philadelphia City Paper
Praise for SCROLL OF SEDUCTION
-Praise for SCROLL OF SEDUCTION
“…rigorously imagined and sumptuously presented…”
“…a fascinating account… richly told...a feel similar to Tracy Chevalier’s Girl with a Pearl Earring.”
“…A lush novel that draws in equal measure on history and human passion, The Scroll of Seduction bears a passing resemblance to Jane Eyre, Like Water for Chocolate and The Historian.”
-Los Angeles Times
“Lush...Belli’s rich prose provides fascinating insight into Juana’s life...”
-Tu Vida Magazine
“Exceedingly clever and powerful, this passion-filled mystery of love and jealousy, of beauty and madness, unravels as the suspense builds to a page-turning frenzy that leaves us wanting to keep reading beyond the back cover.”
-María Amparo Escandón, author of Esperanza’s Box of Saints and González & Daughter Trucking Co.
“In Belli’s story-within-a-story, expertly translated by Lisa Dillman, a historian uses Juana’s saga to seduce a 16 year old orphan at a Madrid boarding school...the novel gallops along. A-”
“The Scroll of Seduction engages the reader on multiple levels…an intelligent work of fiction.”