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: A Novel by Ildefonso Falcones
Series: Stand Alone
Published by Crown Publishing on November 25, 2014
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%