Sunday, March 10, 2013

Review: Malinche by Laura Esquivel

Title: Malinche
Author: Laura Esquivel
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Atria
Published: 2006
Translated from: Spanish
Pages: 208

Rating: 3 out of 10

The Aztec culture is one of my favorites to study, but unfortunately, not that many works of fiction are written set in that time period. So, I was elated to find this book brand new for only $2 at Border's.

The story focuses on the conquistadors', led by Cortes, destruction the Aztec's way of life. Malinalli is a beautiful young woman in the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan. Cortes is drawn to her, and the two fall in love. However, Malinalli becomes torn between her lover and her people when she begins to realize that Cortes cares little for preserving their way of life.

The plot is an amazing one - and I have often wished that history knew more about this tragic romance, based on a true story.
However, I was very disappointed by this book. The language was heavy and weighed down, very stiff and distant. There was constant talk of the Aztec deities and gods. I understand that these were a prominent, historically accurate part of their lives, but they were mentioned everywhere. By the end of the book, I felt that I knew their gods far better than I knew the main character herself.

Scenes that could have been exciting or interesting were nothing but boring and tedious due to Esquivel's toneless writing style.

And of course, if a writer cannot even give their reader an idea of what a character is like - she cannot write a passionate love story. And no - she didn't. I was never sympathetic towards Cortes and Malinalli's supposed romance at all. They did not even seem to be very much in love at all. When Malinalli is forced to marry another man, I felt no sadness for her.
Also, their "romance" begins with Cortes raping the main character. Malinalli thinks to herself later about Cortes "forcing himself on her." Cortes does not ask, and the book specifically says that he did not care that he was hurting her or if she didn't want to.
This sounds like rape to me.
From then on, Malinalli is very attracted to Cortes, and they become lovers. Why on earth a woman would fall in love with the man who raped her, I do not know.

This and a very flat, dry writing style led me to dislike this book. I was glad to finish it, and it will not be staying on my shelves.