Publishing year: 2015
I have just started the new book about D Pedro de Alemán y Camacho.
In the prologue of this book a woman is sobbing kneeling before an old woman who lies on the floor dead, and we see the guards coming and arresting the first woman for murder. It is July 3, 1756.
The novel jumps back in time, and it is December 1735. A woman stealthily walks the streets of Jerez at night even after curfew. She has a bundle in her arms, and we suspect that the bundle is a baby. She directs her steps towards the hospital of blood where she leaves the baby. Then this woman hides, waiting for the door to open after she rang. When the door opens and a woman scoops up the baby in her arms, the woman flees to her house. Her name is Isabel Ruiz Vela. The woman who finds the baby is Sagrario Ramírez, who has lived all his life in the hospital. When her parents died, she was taken in by the hospital, and the usual thing was for noble families to take in orphans in service and then find them a husband. Yet, nobody wanted Sagrario because she has some malformation on her face. So she stayed in the hospital, where she has been happy. Sagrario takes the abandoned baby that is a girl, and using the calendar of saints’ days, she learns it is St Lucia, so she calls the baby Lucia.
The book now sets the action in October 1755. Pedro de Alemán witnesses the procession of a a condemned man to the gallows. The man, Clemente Acebedo is a sixteen-year-old boy, mentally impaired, who was accused of abusing and killing Josefa Luisa, a thirteen-year-old girl, who was also developmentally challenged. There is no doubt that the boy killed the girl, but as Pedro stated in his defence, Clemente didn’t know what he was doing. He wasn’t accountable for his actions. Yet, the judge was categorical, and Clemente was sentenced to death.
The beginning of the book is really intriguing, and many questions crop up. Who is the dead woman in the prologue? Who killed her? And who is the woman who has been arrested? I don’t think she killed the other woman. And who is Isabel Ruiz Vela and why did she abandon her baby? And what happened to Lucia? Did Sagrario bring her up as her own? Or was she given to another family?