Thursday, April 12, 2018

Gateway To The Moon: Rediscovering A Family's History

In 1478 the Spanish Inquisition was established. The year that Columbus went on his first voyage of discovery, 1492, was also the year that all Jews and Muslims were expelled from Spain. Unless they converted to Christianity--or preferred to be burned at the stake.

The Christian Jews outwardly lived like Christians, attending mass, but secretly clung to their way of life, lighting candles on Friday, avoiding pork, and circumcising their sons.

So, the Conversos were targeted, massacred, imprisoned, tortured, and burned. The Jews fled to the New World, but the Inquisition followed to Mexico and the Jews moved into New Mexico.

Gateway to the Moon by Mary Morris imagines the story of one Jewish/Converso family whose ancestor, Luis de Torres, came to the New World with Columbus, following the Torres family through the 15th and 16th centuries and into the 20th century.

Living in Entada de la Luna, the Torres are good Catholics who traditionally light candles on Friday night, disdain to eat pork, and circumcise their sons. The cemetery holds generations of their ancestors. The townsfolk know that their ancestors came from Spain but no longer remember what brought them there.

The story is told in two timelines, telling the contemporary story of Miguel Torres, a teenager with a passion for astronomy, and that of his ancestors beginning with Luis de Torres, a secret Jew born Leni Halvri before the Alhambra Decree.

The horrific history of the Inquisition is revealed through the lives of the Torres family, providing drama and intrigue to the slower, more introspective story of Miguel. Miguel's world has also has its violence and sorrow.

Morris's beautiful writing is a pleasure to read. Miguel is a wonderful, memorable character. And it was interesting to learn about this part of history. I very much enjoyed this novel, a combination of historical fiction, contemporary fiction, and family history.

I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

Find a reading group guide at http://knopfdoubleday.com/guide/9780385542906/_/?ref=PRHC04BC8369A03&linkid=PRHC04BC8369A03&cdi=169C16BF8CF47BCCE0534FD66B0A6668&template_id=8912&aid=randohouseinc23295-20

Gateway to the Moon
Mary Morris
Doubleday Books
Publication Date: April 10, 2018
$27.95 hardcover
ISBN: 9780385542906