- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Turner; 1 edition (October 31, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1683366824
- ISBN-13: 978-1683366829
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.2 x 8.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 21 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,238,719 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Queen's Prophet Paperback – October 31, 2017
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“The Queen’s Prophet offers masterful storytelling, memorable characters, and an imaginative depiction of a world that is as layered and enthralling as the Velázquez painting the novel brings to vivid life.”―Deborah Davis, author of Strapless: John Singer Sargent and the Fall of Madame X
"Impeccably researched, The Queen’s Prophet offers a rare glimpse into an age that was at once colorful, magical, and beautiful but also brutal and violent―a world few people today can begin to imagine, but wonderfully and vividly rendered by the author. The reader is drawn into a world of passions, loyalties, betrayals and ruthless court intrigue filled with twists and surprises. In Mari we have a heroine who is unique, sympathetic, strong, and we pull for her all the way. An impressive debut."―New York Times best-selling author, Barbara Wood
"Patitucci did my very favorite thing: write characters and create a world so lush, vivid and rich that the story sucked me in and swept me away to another land until I reluctantly turned the very last page. This novel is a page-turning look at a particular place and moment in history ― Spain in the 1600s―and a thought-provoking exploration of what it meant to be a dwarfess when they were considered property but also magical beings. I also loved all the questions it raises about the nature and stability of power."―Naomi McDougall Jones
"The Queen's Prophet is an extraordinary reenactment of the life of Maribarbola, dwarf-prophet of Mariana, the wife-niece of Felipe IV of Spain. This captivating tale, written in elegant and sumptuous prose, is an exquisite portrayal of court life in a well-rendered historical fiction, one that kept me turning pages into the wee hours, wanting to read the conclusion yet sorrowful to know it would soon end."―Nina Romano, The Secret Language of Women, Lemon Blossoms, and In America
"Mari is a sympathetic protagonist, and Patitucci does a good job of depicting the precarious, often heartbreaking, existence of dwarves in the 1600s. The court politics are fascinating, as are many of the players, especially fellow court dwarf Nicolas. Inspired by the life of the dwarf Maribáribola, depicted in Velázquez's masterpiece Las Meninas, this debut novel will likely appeal to fans of Philippa Gregory and the HBO series Game of Thrones."―Library Journal
"Patitucci masterfully builds a compelling narrative around a seemingly minor servant. What sets this author apart from many other historical fiction writers is that she clearly did very careful research to prop up her fictional accounts. The sufferings and triumphs of the queen and her dwarfess are believable, and I found myself unable to put the book down on many a night. Kudos to Patitucci on her first foray into historical fiction!"―San Francisco Book Review
"Patitucci is to be commended for tackling a tricky location and time in history. Early modern Spain doesn’t receive attention from most historical fiction authors, who might prefer the same period, but in England or France (under the reigns of Charles II or Louis XIV). She really does make the extravagance of every jewel on the king’s finger apparent, as well as the cruelty of society, come to vivid life."―Bookreporter.com
About the Author
Dawn Patitucci has lived her entire life in the Chicago area and is a long-time college professor in computer science. She is a Germanophile, a power-tool-wielding handywoman, and an orange male cat enthusiast. The Queen's Prophet is her debut novel.
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Patitucci does such a good job and get things started quickly, You become such a fan of the protagonist that you route for her even when you're done reading for the day! I especially loved the use of words and language in conveying the the innermost thoughts of the players involved. I especially enjoyed this line: "If tears were rarer that diamonds in this house then 'I love yous" were like a winged horse." I stopped and read that sentence over and over. I found myself doing that a few times in this book. Patitucci puts words together in such a beautiful way that she captures you and rolls you right in! These people are living in the 1600's in Spain but they are thinking a lot like us: "I couldn't even figure a logic path to the worst case scenario..." Here is an example of another sentence used by the author to make you feel like you are a fly on the wall while all the things that happen happen. And so much happens! It happens page after page. The author doesn't procrastinate. She doesn't over do it. She tells a story. Draws you in. Makes you feel for these people; in deed makes you fall for them too. And the next time I see a small person I will definitely remember some of what I read here and feel a little more feel for them.
The action in the narrative was pretty standard stuff. It reminded me of TV series ranging from Game if Thrones, to Victoria, to the Crown, and even to House of Cards. Mistrust abounds. Cowardice, self-interest, loyalty and disloyalty, opulence, decadence make for the background of the action. While the author wrote of universal issues facing dwarfs, I came away with very little (pardon the pun) I didn’t already know about dwarfs. Thus, I was disappointed.
Dawn Patitucci captured the actions of the times and places in history very well. I have recommended this book to my friends to read. It is very well done.
The story opens with Maria Barbara (Mari) cast out on the streets after her owner (yes, owner), a countess, dies. Mari links up with a magician and begins to think she'll spend her life on the road, entertaining market-goers with her prophecies and predictions. She finds she enjoys being able to make a living, no matter how spurious. But fate has other plans for her, and soon she is ensconced in the splendor of the royal palace, Alcazar, and mired in the political schemes of the royal household. She is proud to realize she can survive on her wits and wiles, but at the same time she despises the life of lies and deceit she is forced to lead.
Ms. Patitucci's debut novel is an enjoyable read, and I'm not a person who generally reads fiction. The historical setting is fascinating (although the author admits to playing freely with history), and the characters believable and sympathetic. I can see why an author would be drawn to Maribarbola -- in the painting, it is her face that draws you in with its specificity and strength of character. I would have liked more of the first part of the novel, when Mari is on the run with the magician, as toward the end of the book, the palace intrigue became somewhat tiresome. Maribarbola, as a fraud and false prophet, is always on edge, fearing for her life, living in a constant state of dread. She's forever sleeping or trying to sleep and being woken by the royals, eating and drinking too much, looking out her window and waiting for something to happen. In the closing section, another character, Maribarbola's nemesis, a dwarf by the name of Nicolasito, kind of takes over the narrative, which made the ending a little unsatisfying for me. But these are minor quibbles.
I like these novels that weave a believable a story around a famous painting. You might want to read Christina Baker Klein's A Piece of the World, which imagines the story behind the famous Andrew Wyeth painting, Christina's World. And, of course, Tracy Chevalier's Girl with a Pearl Earring, the book that probably started this genre.