The Barefoot Queen by Ildefonso Falcones

December 11, 2014 Reviews 22

DNF Report

I’ve decided that when I’ve spent days (and sometimes weeks… because DNFs tend to take a lot more time) reading a book and have to give up on it, I want to give a quick explanation why. So welcome to what I’m calling a DNF report. It’s not a real book review but a quick report of why I had to call it quits and the time of death.

The Barefoot Queen by Ildefonso Falcones

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Barefoot Queen by Ildefonso FalconesThe Barefoot Queen: A Novel by Ildefonso Falcones
Series: Stand Alone
Published by Crown Publishing on November 25, 2014
Genres: Historical
Pages: 656
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher

A historical epic full of bravery and romance that follows two women as they make a life for themselves in 18th-century Spain.

It's January of 1748. Caridad is a recently freed Cuban slave wondering the streets of Seville. Her master is dead and she has nowhere to go. When her path crosses with Milagros Carmona's-a young, rebellious gypsy-the two women are instantly inseparable. Milagros introduces Caridad to the gypsy community, an exotic fringe society that will soon change her life forever. Over time they each fall in love with men who are fiercely loyal and ready to fight to the death for their rights as a free people. When all gypsies are declared outlaws by royal mandate, life in their community becomes perilous. They soon find themselves in Madrid-a city of passion and dancing, but also a treacherous one full of smugglers and thieves. Caridad and Milagros must help in the gypsy's struggle against society and its laws in order to stay together; it's a dangerous battle that cannot, and will not, be easily won. From the tumultuous bustle of Seville to the theatres of Madrid, The Barefoot Queen is a historical fresco filled with charaters that live, love, suffer, and fight for what they believe.

I have to stress that this isn’t a DNF because The Barefoot Queen is bad. It’s a DNF because I stepped outside my comfort zone and, in this case, I shouldn’t have. I found The Barefoot Queen in the “Literature/Fiction (adult)” shelf on NetGalley. A shelf I don’t tend to look at and probably really shouldn’t, I guess.

Why it didn’t work for me:

The Barefoot Queen was so slow. I only made it 15% of the way in, but that was 100 pages! This book is long and I just couldn’t connect with any of the characters or the story.

The main character, Caridad, is a freed slave wandering alone in Spain. I loved the concept, but I hated the way Caridad was written. Her thoughts were so empty – it kind of felt like some authors write intelligent animals, or maybe a step up. I think that the author was trying to show how lost and hopeless she felt and it’s VERY possible that some things were lost in translation (since this was originally published in Spanish).

The story line that was really interesting and had lots of potential was the gypsies. It’s probably the reason I pushed passed the 8% point I was at when I first wanted to call it quits. It was a really great representation of the Catholic authorities dealings with the gypsy people at this time – and introduced some really interesting personalities and potential conflicts.

I’m actually specialize on this time period AND Spanish history and I can say that this was EXTREMELY historically accurate. That may be another reason I wasn’t feeling The Barefoot Queen actually and, again, it’s no fault of the book. I have read SO MUCH about this time period and I would like a break from it. It just wasn’t right for me.

So it didn’t work for me and I’m calling it.

Time of death: 15%


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About Ildefonso Falcones

ldefonso Falcones de Sierra, married and the father of four children, is a lawyer who lives and works in Barcelona. The cathedral of the sea is his homage to a people capable of building, in the then unusual span of fifty-four years, what is undoubtedly one of the most lovely churches in the world.

A historical novel that has become an unprecedented bestseller, recognized by both readers and critics, and whose publication rights have been sold to thirty-two countries. The winner of several awards, including the 2006 Silver Euskadi Prize for best Spanish language novel, the 2007 Qué Leer Prize for best Spanish language book of the year, and the prestigious Italian award, Giovanni Boccaccio, for best foreign author of 2007.


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About Berls
Berls has been a book lover her whole life. She reads pretty much every genre and is currently working hard at making her childhood dream of becoming an author come true. She loves sharing her thoughts about books, blogging, and just random fun stuff. She's a challenge and read-a-thon junkie, so it's no wonder that she loves co-hosting the COYER reading challenge. Leave a comment, Berls is always happy to chat!

22 Responses to “The Barefoot Queen by Ildefonso Falcones”

    • Berls

      Me either – if its slow I really need to FEEL something pretty intense for the characters, and I just didn’t with this. Oh well, better luck next time!

    • Berls

      Yeah, I tried, but when there’s no connection after a certain point its just so hard to keep going and looking for one. Oh well, better luck next time – but it will be a while before I step out again I think.

  1. Katherine

    Some of my favorite books were read when I stepped out of my comfort zone but it’s definitely a gamble and when it doesn’t work it really doesn’t work. There’s been plenty of times I read something and thought “Oh yeah, THIS is why I normally steer clear of this genre!” Sorry it didn’t work for you. I was tempted by it but ultimately decided to pass and I’m glad I did. I don’t think it would’ve worked for me either.
    Katherine recently posted…If the Shoe Kills – ReviewMy Profile

    • Berls

      It has a lot of potential and I think it probably is a great book – if that’s the kind of book you like. But I was definitely thinking that I knew why I usually steer clear of this genre as I read – its just not my cup of tea.

    • Berls

      It does look pretty, huh?!? That’s probably what pulled me in, but it wasn’t enough. You’re probably right, it probably builds for a really long time and then gets great.

  2. Bookworm Brandee

    Good for you, stepping out of your box. I’m only sorry it didn’t work. But I totally understand. I’m sure it was a combination of all those things…translation, needing a break from this time period… I think a lot is lost in translation and that’s too bad. It starting out so slowly and being so long would have probably gotten to me. Well, kudos to you for giving it a try. And I hope your current read is fab! :)
    Bookworm Brandee recently posted…**Series Blitz & Giveaway ~ Rook & Ronin ~ JA Huss**My Profile

    • Berls

      Thanks Brandee. I think it was a combination of all those factors too – and for the right audience its probably a very good book actually.

      I’m really enjoying my current read, but its going so slow. I just have so many things in trying to do that I don’t have a lot of time to sit down and read lately. Its frustrating because I’m like 50 pages from being able to read Huss!

  3. Glass

    You can’t like every book out there and I think if you figure out from the very start that it won’t work out for you, that you will struggle to read it and even find million other things to do (like ironing or organizing your closet) than read, you should not waste your time.
    Glass recently posted…(Blog Tour + Givaway) Breeder by K.B. HoyleMy Profile

    • Berls

      That was me and this book for sure. I really tried to give it a chance, especially because I knew I was stepping out of my comfort zone. But yeah, sometimes you just have to call it.

    • Berls

      I’m not either Melanie. I think next time I do, I’ll try to do it with something not quite so long! I do want to expand my reading, trying new things is how we find new loves after all!

  4. Ramona

    Never heard of it, though from reading your review I can tell I would struggle. This year I read Mark Helprin’s Winter’s Tale and Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312, both *very* long and not particularly brisk-moving. They took a long time (and a lot out of me), and I was tempted to stop (in fact I think I even paused a few times with 2312). Anyway… Thanks for the link for the macros tutorial! I’ll give it a try soon :) xx
    Ramona recently posted…Manuscript revisionMy Profile

    • Berls

      Did you end up liking either if them? That’s always my concern when I quit a book – if I hadn’t given up, would I have liked it? I think I might have liked this one if I could push through – but 100 pages is a lot to still have no connection with the characters.

      Oh and no problem, I hope its helpful!

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