Lo! Jacaranda
by Harry Freiermuth
Trafford Publishing

"What could be in store for me as a Gypsy?"

Born as a Spanish-Gypsy, raised in wealth, Jacaranda never knows her true identity until she, her Spanish father, and Gypsy mother, Safira, are exposed at her engagement feast. Inquisitors condemn them all to be burned at the stake. Aided by the Gypsy keeper of the horses, Grast, the women are saved to begin an adventure that will lead them, disguised as men, to serve on a slave ship bound for New Spain. Before arrival, it is overrun by pirate crew members who use the Gypsies as skirmishers but, once in port, also sell them as slaves. Purchased by Padre Antonio, they are offered employment as they travel to Mexico City where the Padre must meet with church officials to learn what is needed at missions up the Mexican and California coasts and at their final destination in Northern California where the Spanish Padre will continue the building of Spanish Missions. Prisons, pirates, slavery give way to friendships, love and, eventually, another encounter with the Inquisitors seeking to arrest heretics.

Freiermuth, a retired priest, gives voice to the repressed people in Old and New Spain in a story that shows actual events that were, if not covered up, too long overlooked. Readers will feel the emotional upheaval for both Gypsies in Spain, the Aztec empire crushed by the Spanish in Mexico, and the bondage of natives to the California Spanish Mission system. The author gives meticulous, authentic attention to detail in Church doctrine of the time, character, location, and history in this skillfully developed novella. Rich in personal flavor reflected in sensitive imagination, the author transports readers to another time and place. Using full-page watercolor illustrations to enhance the story, this fast-paced tale will delight readers in a way that is both entertaining and educational.

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