Sunday, August 7, 2011

Review: Josefina's Sin: A Novel by Claudia H. Long

Title: Josefina's Sin: A Novel
Author: Claudia H. Long
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: 
August 9th 2011
Source: Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon

A thrilling and passionate debut about a sheltered landowner’s wife whose life is turned upside down when she visits the royal court in seventeenth-century Mexico.
When Josefina accepts an invitation from the Marquessa to come stay and socialize with the intellectual and cultural elite in her royal court, she is overwhelmed by the Court’s complicated world. She finds herself having to fight off aggressive advances from the Marquessa’s husband, but is ultimately unable to stay true to her marriage vows when she becomes involved in a secret affair with the local bishop that leaves her pregnant.
Amidst this drama, Josefina finds herself unexpectedly drawn to the intellectual nuns who study and write poetry at the risk of persecution by the Spanish Inquisition that is overtaking Mexico. One nun in particular, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, teaches Josefina about poetry, writing, critical thinking, the nature and consequences of love, and the threats of the Holy Office. She is Josefina’s mentor and lynchpin for her tumultuous passage from grounded wife and mother to woman of this treacherous, confusing, and ultimately physically and intellectually fulfilling world.

Josefina's Sin tells us the story of Josefina from the very first moment she gets married with Manuel Castillo Coronado, a wealthy landowner. Like any other woman of that time, her duty is to obey her husband and to take care of the children, but her life changes drastically when she receives the invitation of the Marquessa to visit her royal court. There she will will be the focus of attention of two men, the Marquessa's husband and the local bishop. Also she will meet Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz who will show her a different and intellectual world.
I must admit that I'm a huge fan of historical fiction books. Books that tells us how life was in different time periods from ours, their customs, how they used to behave, their fears and their dreams. And I really like those kind of books specially if they talk about the life of a real person. (In this case you will find some details about Sor (Sister) Juana Ines de la Cruz, a Mexican Poet) So when I saw Josefina's Sin I really wanted to read it. 

The story starts with a breathtaking prologue,  which gives us some information about the plot and the main characters. After that, the book gets a little bit slow, but the details and the descriptions were really good, and that made me feel that I was part of the story. Also the characters were believable and attached to the time the story takes place, so you're not going to find a kick-ass heroine or something like that. Like I said before, Josefina is a woman like any other of that time period, submissive, I might say.  

Even thought I liked this book, it was difficult for me to finish it and the problem was the sex scenes. There were a lot, some of them were too descriptive and some of them were too violent and that made me stop reading in several occasions, so I felt sometimes that the writer was loosing the main idea of the book, that was supposedly to explain how Josefina gets and how she develops inside the world of the intellectual nuns and what is her true role there. In my opinion, the book was better without those scenes. It's true, some of them needed to be in the book and they were a requirement for understanding the story and the plot, but the descriptions were too much and I'm sure there will be a lot of readers who will not like them or enjoy them. 

But… If you don't mind those scenes, and if you like historical fiction books, full of details, intrigue and adultery,  you can give it a try, and maybe you will enjoy Josefina's Sin more than I did. 

I liked it

Claudia H. Long is a practicing attorney in Northern California. She wrote her senior thesis at Harvard University on the feminism of Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz and revived her passion for Sor Juana when she wrote Josefina's Sin. She is the mother of two children, and lives with her husband. 


  1. I just might have to give this one a go! I love love love historical fiction, but I've never read anything that takes place in Mexico! This could be a very interesting read. Thanks for the great review!

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  3. I have this book for review...thanks for your comments.




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