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The Last Song by Eva Wiseman
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The Last Song

by Eva Wiseman

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book explores one family's life during the Spanish Inquisition. A heartfelt look at what it is like to live in fear of exposure during a time of strife for many people. I have read little on this subject so it was nice to have this part of history explained to me in such detail. I had no idea that Jews were a prime target during the Inquisition. This book opened my eyes to many things such as arranged marriages, buying passages to freedom, the treatment of slaves during this time period, and living in a time when even your closest friends can quickly become your enemies out of fear.

Anyone who is a fan of historical fiction will dive right into this book. I believe the author does an excellent job of depicting the time period and the atrocities which occurred during the time. The characters are delightfully realistic and you can't help but empathize with their situation. Living the story through Isabel gives the reader an inside look of the in decisions she faces as she struggles to understand her changing faith when her family history is revealed to her. The book is clean and reader friendly. An excellent read for all ages. ( )
  ShelleyDaugherty | Jan 17, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This ER Young Adult novel is about the life and times of a young teenager living in Toledo, Spain in 1491-2. Isabel is a good Catholic and her father is physician to the King and Queen of Spain. She finds out during the course of the story that her parents are in fact hidden Jews whose grandparents converted under the threat of death many years ago. Isabel learns about her Jewish heritage with the help of a young silversmith and his family. She is also betrothed to a young man who is brutal and cruel- her parents think that this marriage will protect her from the Inquisition.Unfortunately, her father is betrayed to the Inquisition just about the time that Spanish Jews are expelled from Spain. The adventures that Isabel undertakes to save her family and the revealing of who are friends and who are enemies make this novel exciting and very easy to follow for the young reader. I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to any reader of Young Adult novels. ( )
  torontoc | Dec 28, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The Last Song, a story of Isabel and her family living in Toledo, Spain during the violent, treacherous times of the Inquistion. The vivid contrast of powerful Catholics, secure in their faith and their country with the Spanish Jews, ostracized, disenfranchised, and vulnerable is compelling. We share Isabel's experiences with both religions and lifestyles as the story takes her through surprising revelations, danger and young love.

I really enjoyed this story and believe it to be a great introduction for young people to become acquainted with this period of history.
  katylit | Dec 19, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The Last Song by Eva Wiseman is a story of intrigue and escape during the early days of the Spanish Inquisition.

Isabel attends Mass regularly and finds great consolation in prayer, so it comes as a shock when she discovers that her family is of Jewish heritage, and her parents secretly practice the old faith. In Toledo, Spain in 1491, secrets like that can have disastrous consequences. In spite of the danger, Isabel feels an irresistible curiosity about her heritage. She secretly befriends Yonah, the son of a Jewish silversmith, who takes her to places where she can learn covertly about her parents' faith. Isabel and Yonah's friendship might even become something more -- but Isaebel is betrothed to Luis, a cruel and loutish boy, but the son of an Old Christian family. Isabel's parents hope that this connection will keep Isabel safe in Spain's volatile political atmosphere, but Isabel feels that the price may be too high. Can she find another way to escape persecution, one that doesn't involve marrying Luis?

The real strength of this novel is the setting. Wiseman obviously did her research, and Isabel's world is described in vivid detail. Unfortunately, the characters, dialogue, and plot are less powerful. I found Isabel annoying, Too Stupid To Live at times -- she makes impulsive decisions that put her life, her friends' lives, and her family's lives in danger on a whim. None of the secondary characters were particularly nuanced or rounded, and the dialogue often seemed a bit stilted. It's not that this is a bad book -- it's just not a great one. Readers with a particular interest in Jewish history, the Spanish Inquisition, or historical fiction in general may want to take a look, but others will probably be okay to skip this one. ( )
  foggidawn | Dec 9, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
What a good book for the young reader!

Isabel is a 15 year old young woman from a prominent family in Spain at the time of the Spanish Inquisition. She lives a life of privilege, wealth, devotion and security - until she learns a terrible secret. Her family are Christian to the world but actually practice their Jewish faith in secret.

The book assumes the reader has some knowledge of the the history of the Spanish Inquisition but even a reader with no historical knowledge would easily pick up on the sense of danger to be Jewish at that time.

Could there be more historical content? Could the characters be given a bit more depth? Yes to both those questions. I believe that the inquisitive reader would find the story interesting enough to look up more information on her/his own. I would not hesitate to recommend this book. ( )
  EvelynBernard | Dec 2, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0887769799, Hardcover)

Spain had been one of the world’s most tolerant societies for eight hundred years, but that way of life was wiped out by the Inquisition. Isabel’s family feels safe from the terrors, torture, and burnings. After all, her father is a respected physician in the court of Ferdinand and Isabella. Isabel was raised as a Catholic and doesn’t know that her family’s Jewish roots may be a death sentence. When her father is arrested by Torquemada, the Grand Inquisitor, she makes a desperate plan to save his life – and her own.
 
Once again, master storyteller Eva Wiseman brings history to life in this riveting and tragic novel.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:55:36 -0400)

When the tolerant culture of Spain is shattered by the Inquisition, Isabel feels safe because of her Catholic upbringing and father's position as a respected doctor, until he is arrested for the family's secret Jewish heritage.

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