AMONG THE INNOCENT by Elizabeth Borton de Trevino


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An overwrought, historically (and theologically) dubious tale of secret Jews and converted ""New Christians"" in late-16th-century Mexico--where the Spanish Inquisition was transported in all its ferocity. De Trevino's primary heroine is beautiful young Guiomar, raised in a Spanish convent as a devout Catholic. . . till she's suddenly brought to the deathbed of her mother--who reveals Guiomar's Jewish birth and gives her a mission: ""You must go out to New Spain to your father and brother and you must bring them back into Judaism."" So, though unwavering in her faith (""she knew she must keep Jesus the Christ enthroned in her soul""), Guiomar departs for Mexico. Also headed by ship for the New World: Irish chieftain's son Columb, a devout seminarian who falls in love with Guiomar at first sight; Fermin Mendoza, who's searching for wife Sarita, a New Christian abducted to Mexico by her ""Judaizer"" half-brothers; a mysterious doctor named Morales; and some friars of the Inquisition. Along the way, however, Columb and Fermin will fall into the hands of English pirates, then be taken prisoner by the Spanish and put on trial by Mexico City's Inquisition. And there's trouble ahead in Mexico City for Guiomar too: her longlost brother Gonzalo, tortured by incestuous longings for his new sister, turns to Judaism (encouraged by Dr. Morales, an underground rabbi) and disappears into the hills; Guiomar is also lusted after by a crude soldier-of-fortune, whose jealous mistress reports Guiomar to the Inquisition; and she nearly dies under Inquisition torture (they want Gonzalo's whereabouts). So, finally, Gonzalo nobly gives himself up and is burned in the auto-da-fÉ. . . while Fermin gives up his quest (he and the bedraggled Sarita have both been wandering through the countryside searching for each other) and Guiomar finds true love with selfless Columb. Intermittently effective as sheer melodrama--but the well-intentioned grappling with complex religious history creates a peculiar muddle (some of which Jews may find offensive), and the jumble of subplots makes for uneven, sporadically involving reading.

Pub Date: July 3rd, 1981
Publisher: Doubleday