Posts Tagged ‘conversos in Spain’

* a review of The Heretic in the Historical Novels Review

Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 22, 2012

Spanish edition published Feb 2012

The narrative is compelling, sweeping the reader along on a well-paced journey, while the setting comes alive with the sights, sounds and smells of medieval Spain. 

  • Set in fifteenth century Spain, The Heretic by Lewis Weinstein tells the story of a converso Christian who rediscovers his Jewish roots, with dire consequences.
  • Steeped in late medieval culture, the novel immerses the reader in a world of religious intolerance and cross-cultural cooperation.
  • Mr. Weinstein clearly did a wealth of research and manages to weave most of it in skillfully. 
  • His characters, both fictional and historical, are vital living beings, well motivated, true-to-life and, more importantly, true to the period. 
  • Gabriel Catalan, his wife Pilar, their son Tomas and daughter-in-law Esther, shine through the book, confronting their past and fighting for a future for their family.
  • Set against the turbulent period in Spanish history just prior to the establishment of the Spanish Inquisition, the story follows Gabriel’s quest to preserve the great works of Judaism using the newly invented printing press. 
  • He and his family risk their lives to keep their activities hidden from the Church authorities, most notably from the Dominican monk, Friar Ricardo Perez, a protégé of Torquemada.
  • The history of the relationship between the Jewish people and the Christians is incorporated in a believable way so that readers become acquainted with the historical background behind the rise of the Inquisition.


This review first appeared in the August 2000 issue of The Historical Novels Review.


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* Richard John Neuhaus on The Heretic … vividly dramatizing the sins that John Paul II has asked Christians to candidly acknowledge

Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 4, 2009

Richard John Neuhaus wrote in First Things, A Journal of Religion, Culture and Public Life

A novel of generations of conversos– Jews who converted to Christianity- during the years leading up to the Spanish Inquisition. The story reflects the conflicted motives that led churchmen to cooperate with the royal effort to “purify” the Spanish nation, vividly dramatizing the sins that John Paul II has asked Christians to candidly acknowledge. The Heretic is a valuable contribution to understanding a tragedy too often debated in the mire of accusation and defensiveness.

Posted at … http://www.firstthings.com/article.php3?id_article=2696

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* Tikkun … The Heretic is an engaging and enlightening novel

Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 4, 2009

This multi-generational tale is set in fifteenth-century Spain, in the land that was the heart, and heat, of an inquisition against those who were alleged to be heretics against the Christian faith.

Gabriel Catalan’s Jewish father was forced to convert to Christianity, but Gabriel remains a covertly faithful Jew. He becomes wealthy and influential as an advisor to the throne, and a confidant of Princess Isabel. But he is forced to confront the fanatical friar Ricardo Perez, a Dominican monk determined to rid Spain of Jewish heretics. Friar Perez suspects that Gabriel Catalan is in fact a Jew.

The Heretic is an engaging and enlightening novel set against a uniquely dark age of religious persecution and cruelty.

Posted at … http://www.tikkun.org/archive/backissues/xtik0101/culture/010162.html

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* The Jewish Press … The Heretic is a breathtaking tour de force

Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 4, 2009

Aharon ben Anshel reviews the Heretic in the The Jewish Press …

 The Heretic is a history of the early beginnings of the Spanish Inquisition in novelized form – a breathtaking tour de force that is both historically accurate and unusually entertaining, so that one can almost finish the nearly 400 pages in just two or three sittings.

Weinstein’s book has accurately captured the spice and flavor of fifteenth-century Spain and the time of Torquemada, Ferdinand and Isabella.

This success is validated by the foreword written by Msgr. Thomas J. Hartman (of TV’s “The G-d Squad”), who wrote: “The Heretic” was where I turned in order to understand the Inquisition. I knew the outline of Christian atrocities, but Lew’s book taught me about the painful positions many good people were put into in order to survive. It’s not a pretty picture.

The Heretic is a truly exciting page-turner.

Posted at … http://www.jewishpress.com/content.cfm?contentid=15797&sContentid=1

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* Midwest Book Review … The Heretic is a superbly written debut novel

Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 4, 2009

Midwest Book Review (Oregon, WI USA)

The Heretic is a superbly written debut novel of political intrigue by Lewis Weinstein that adds a definitively human touch to the terrible ills of history and religious persecution. Depicting a family of Jews living in Seville on the eve of the Spanish Inquisition of the 15th century, The Heretic is a thoughtful and thought-provoking historical story of the abuse of power and tests of faith that were anything but. The Heretic clear documents Lewis Weinstein as a master storyteller and will leave the reader looking eagerly toward his next literary effort.

 posted at … http://www.amazon.ca/Heretic-Lewis-Weinstein/dp/0967134803

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* Rick Steves recommends The Heretic

Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 4, 2009

Spain is overwhelmingly rich in history, art and culture.

Preliminary reading will help you get the most from your trip 


Fiction (Spain)

Don Quixote — Miguel de Cervantes

Tales of the Alhambra — Washington Irving

The Sun Also Rises: For Whom the Bell Tolls — Ernest Hemingway

The Heretic — Lewis Weinstein


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* Curled Up With a Good Book … a dramatic novel set in the bloody upheaval of the Spanish Inquisition

Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 4, 2009

Weinstein sets his dramatic novel in the bloody upheaval of the Spanish Inquisition. The great Dominican purges of 1391 and 1412 have created a large number of conversos, those willing to relinquish their faith and embrace Christianity rather than be burned at the stake as heretics.

After centuries of war with the Moors, Christianity is in its ascendancy, the Church brutal in its treatment of those under suspicion, the finger of doubt enough to send a man to the inquisitor’s torture chambers. Repeatedly the “conversos” are tormented by angry mobs of “old Christians.” The old Christians accuse the reformed Jews of secretly practicing the old religion, flouting the law of the land and the Holy Mother Church.

A successful goldsmith in Seville and a secret follower of the old ways, Gabriel Catalan has been conspiring with others to print copies of important Hebrew texts by means of Gutenberg’s revolutionary printing techniques and in collusion with Moorish royalty. Although the majority of the originals have been destroyed, Catalan is able to print many copies but must invoke the aid of his son, Tomas, to hide the texts from the Christians.

Gabriel aids a local family currently under suspicion as they quietly remove their belongings to a small village, where they will be safe from the daily violence and unprovoked attacks that have become endemic in Seville. Tomas travels with these conversos to their new home and falls in love with the daughter along the way, the whole family intent on seeking a safer life far from Spain, unaware that they are followed from Seville.

Meanwhile, the Catalan family is marked, unable to escape the aggressive principal arm of the Inquisition in Seville, Friar Ricardo Perez. The Inquisitor is the genius behind a trap that is slowly closing on the unsuspecting if careful Gabriel, a trap that will deliver Gabriel to the stake along with his devoted wife, Pilar.

As the principal characters attempt to leave behind a legacy for those who follow, the region is in chaos. The Moors divided, Christian Isabel seizes her opportunity to capture the Spanish throne and marry Ferdinand of Portugal. Their mission is to restore the grandeur of Christianity and subdue the unbelievers by any means necessary, the Inquisition a devastating tool in the success of their enterprise.

Seville in turmoil, suspicion and betrayal everywhere, the infamous Tourquemada joins Perez in pursuit of the Catalan family. Convicted by the messengers of God, the family is tied together and surrounded by burning stakes, yet another pyrrhic victory.

Weinstein reveals the ugly face of intolerance, fanatics demanding blood sacrifice in one of the most brutal periods of history, Jews and conversos scattering before the sword of Christianity. One great religion pitted against another, God watches His children destroyed in His name.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at http://www.curledup.com, this review was posted at … http://www.curledup.com/theretic.htm

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