The Inquisitor’s Wife

Written by Jeanne Kalogridis
Review by Arleigh Johnson

In 1481, Queen Isabella, Dominican friar Torquemada, and the Spanish Inquisition arrive in Seville. Many Jewish families, as well as conversos—the “New Christians”—flee to Portugal or other safe places, while others stay behind to await better times, believing the queen’s promise of a fair inquiry. Marisol Garcia’s family is suspect due to her mother’s heritage, though her husband is an “Old Christian” and they have always lived openly as Catholics. However, Marisol finds her life spinning out of control when her betrothed abandons her and her father marries her instead to the son of an enemy.

Now the wife of an up-and-coming Inquisitor, Marisol must tread carefully as she discovers more and more about her mother’s secret life, her lost love and the reasons for her father’s apparent disloyalty. From the glittering royal court to the unfathomable dungeons of the Inquisition, this brave young woman unflinchingly lives through impossible circumstances and devastating sorrow and finally finds and embraces her true self and the religion in which she was born.

This story is fast-paced and extremely descriptive, which may turn some readers off with details of torture and other disagreeable subjects, though these are essential to the storyline. Some facts do not connect seamlessly, but overall the narrative is satisfying and the characters are well rounded with believable motives and personalities. Beginning with a history of the people of Iberia, and continuing with descriptions of the society, religions and politics of the era, this is a thorough historical novel with a hint of mystery and intrigue.