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Malinche by Laura Esquivel
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Malinche

by Laura Esquivel

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Library discard. 1 of 12 for $6.
  velvetink | Mar 31, 2013 |
Malinche is a very controversial figure and it is hard to extract her own history from that of the conquistador, Hernan Cortes. Known as Malinalli in the book or Marina (her baptismal name), this is her story from childhood, being instructed by her grandmother, sold as a slave by her mother through to her meeting with Cortes.
As with Like Water for Chocolate, there is a lot of local colour and flavour in the book, I liked Malinche's descriptions of codices. Each chapter is preceeded by a codex, to give you an idea of what they are like.
Malinalli faces a dilemma, she is trying to understand the arrival of the Spanish, who were seen as the return of Quetzalcoatl, a creator god . She becomes his "tongue", translating the meeting between him and Montezuma, which ultimately led to the fall of his empire. Malinalli must deal with the reprecussions of her actions and her relationship with Cortes - being his slave, lover, translator.
Not a bad read, but I think that the love story which made Like Water for Chocolate so compelling is not here, nor is there a substitute for it. ( )
  soffitta1 | Dec 24, 2010 |
I knew this was fiction when I picked it up. I hoped it was historical fiction, and that I would learn something of Mexico's history by reading it. I was profoundly disappointed. Instead of historical fiction, I felt like I was reading a mixture of New Age spirituality and a Harlequin romance. The book primarily describes Malinalli/La Malinche's spiritual reflections on life, with occasional breaks of a paragraph or two to describe historical places, people, or events. I'm not convinced that the religious beliefs portrayed in the book were authentic to Malinche's time and culture. Malinalli/La Malinche seemed more like a 21st century adherent to New Age beliefs than a 16th century Nahua woman.

The book's one redeeming feature is its bibliography of sources about La Malinche, Cortés, and the Spanish conquest of Mexico. I've developed an interest in this topic since becoming close to several of my brother's Mexican in-laws. Maybe I'll find what I'm looking for in one of the books in the bibliography. I certainly didn't find it here. ( )
5 vote cbl_tn | Nov 28, 2010 |
Malinche is best described as a novel of historical fiction. The title character, Malinalli also known as Malinche or Dona Marina was actually very real and played an integral part in Cortes’s conquest of Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec Empire.
Malinalli was purchased by Cortes to be his translator and to interpret the many dialects he would encounter during his trek towards Tenochtitlan especially important were the words of Montezuma whose city of gold Cortes so desired. Malinalli knew she was in a very precarious situation, one in which she held much power in her words but in translation brought death and destruction to a powerful and proud group of people whose blood she shared.
For any fan of Laura Esquivel who expects lyrical prose, magical realism and vivid depictions of love and nature, I must warn you, you will not find it between these pages. The supposed love affair between Cortes and Malinche comes off more like a lust affair on the part of Senor Cortes. Other than Malinalli’s vivid dreams of the four elements of nature and images of her gods there is little else in this novel that resembles Like Water for Chocolate or The Law of Love. Granted the conquest of Mexico is a very serious and complicated subject but it seems Esquivel’s style of writing does not do it justice. Trying to include historical, cultural and personal information only produced a disjointed and incohesive product. ( )
  Carmenere | May 13, 2010 |
The Aztec culture is one of my favorites to study, but unfortunately, not that many works of fiction are written on them. 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. ( )
1 vote joririchardson | Mar 3, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 074329033X, Hardcover)

This is an extraordinary retelling of the passionate and tragic love between the conquistador Cortez and the Indian woman Malinalli, his interpreter during his conquest of the Aztecs. Malinalli's Indian tribe has been conquered by the warrior Aztecs. When her father is killed in battle, she is raised by her wisewoman grandmother who imparts to her the knowledge that their founding forefather god, Quetzalcoatl, had abandoned them after being made drunk by a trickster god and committing incest with his sister. But he was determined to return with the rising sun and save her tribe from their present captivity. When Malinalli meets Cortez she, like many, suspects that he is the returning Quetzalcoatl, and assumes her task is to welcome him and help him destroy the Aztec empire and free her people. The two fall passionately in love, but Malinalli gradually comes to realize that Cortez's thirst for conquest is all too human, and that for gold and power, he is willing to destroy anyone, even his own men, even their own love.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:52:46 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

"When Malinalli, a member of a tribe conquered by the Aztec warriors, first meets Cortes, she - like many - believes that he is the reincarnated forefather god of her tribe. Naturally, she assumes that her task is to help Cortes destroy the Aztec empire and free her people. The two fall passionately in love, but Malinalli gradually comes to realize that Cortes's thirst for conquest is all too human. He is willing to destroy anyone, even his own men, even their own love." "Throughout Mexican history, Malinalli has been reviled for her betrayal of the Indian people. However, recent historical research has shown that her role was much more complex; she was the mediator between two cultures, Hispanic and Native American, and two languages, Spanish and Nahuatl."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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