Two girls form an unexpected connection.
Anica is a converso, imprisoned by the Inquisition, along with her whole family, for secretly adhering to the Jewish faith. Bienvenida is a Nahuatl woman, employed by the priests to clean the corridors of the dungeon where Anica is held. The poetry – or prayers – that she hears Anica reciting spurs her to break the rules and to try to help.
Although Anica is physically jailed for her faith, Bienvenida is barely more free. And it’s also her faith, her adherence to tradition and to home that keeps her in her menial position.
The story is beautifully and sensitively written. I’m not 100% sure what the author intended readers to take away from it. What I personally got out of it was that although faith and tradition can seem beautiful and comfortable, they can also be chains that cause us to limit ourselves, lose our adaptability and accede to our own demise.
Vourvoulias is definitely an author I’ll be on the lookout for, going forward.