Saturday, March 17, 2012

Nina Vida Shares History/Alternative History of Mexico!

Portrait of Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico wit...Image via Wikipedia
The first and last Emperor of Mexico!
1800's; Later Executed

Children of Guerrero

By Nina Vida

History in itself is sometimes more chilling that real life, especially so when it is woven into a novel that contains many historical facts merged by an author who has thoroughly researched and studied the story to create a tale that is both informative as well as fascinating.

Nina Vida goes back has far as 1511 and begins with the sailing of a ship from Spain to the Americas. This historical text is spread throughout the novel, often merging with what is happening during other parts of Mexico's history. Many of us will recognize names such as Maximilian, Trotsky and others who fled from Europe from either war or danger from Hitler, Stalin, These touches of reality serve to pull the reader into the story as we then accept the characters' lives as part of an alternative history corresponding to fact. I have found that I enjoy this type of novel more and more as it helps to understand the setting, the climate of the times and the emotional impact of how history molds our present lives. Kudos to Nina Vida for pulling not only our heads, but our hearts into Mexico's past...

Much of the early story was provided by Father Aguilar who sailed on that first voyage and made it through alive, only to be captured with Guerrero. Gonzalo Guerrero was also a seaman on that ship and until most of them had been killed and Guerrero and Father Aguilar had been captured by savages. However, one of the trials by his tribe was to throw those captured into a deep well and if one was able to live, then he was seen as sent by God... Guerrero did indeed remain alive and climbed out of the well on the third day. It should be noted that, by this time, religion was a merge of Catholicism and those gods and practices followed by the Indians and Mayans...

Guerrero was seen as sent by God...he was tattooed, painted and holes were made in his body to hold gems! Later, Guerrero also had become more savage than Spanish and fought with the tribes against Spain...

Maximilian and his entourage came in the 1800s when he was made Emperor of Mexico. In Spain he had been an Arch Duke, and really didn't have the drive to take over a country; however, his wife declared that she had a vision and so they traveled with everything they needed, having been financially supported by Napoleon. However, Maximilian was really not a leader and spent much money beautifying buildings and gardens that pleased him and he would stay there until another building was found, always needing much work. But little was done to take over as Emperor or to claim some of the riches for Spain. 

Until Napoleon was no longer willing to support his continued draw on funds! By that time, years had passed and Maximilian was more in tune with Mexico...and became a beloved leader as he fought with limited soldier support against the Spaniards who invaded!

Just a short note to explain that Father Aguilar had, (after seeking God's forgiveness) begun to use his prayer book to write about what was happening, in the margins, so that this book was later passed down and became an important part of the lives of the children, telling much of what had occurred during the hundreds of years that had passed.

The later stories, of the lives of the children, carry into the 1980's. We learn of the great-granddaughter of Maximilian, who had taken the wife of a man who had saved his life and who was also his daughter. Her name was Conception and her beauty was more that the emperor could deny himself. It is those descendants who later become actively involved in revolution and fighting for freedom of Mexico...

The chapters are titled to explain the characters as they appear as readers are moved back and forth in history. I believe, though, that the one concept that you will realize and see carried through the novel is the fierce love and loyalty of those who either lived or came to Mexico--developed as they lived the simple life, enjoyed the beauty of their surroundings and came to stay, even when they were given opportunities to return to their own countries. Certainly a tribute to the appeal of the country!

There is much to learn historically about Mexico. As is often the case, it is hard to understand the military actions of killing, stealing, etc., to capture land and its riches. So there are some gory scenes, such as when Guerrero is "changed" to sit as a leader of the tribe. Still it was what happened during the wars when the European countries came to claim new lands. The author has created an outstanding collage of what occurred and then gives us a much more in-depth view of those more recent times that brings us a story of a slaughter that many never heard about...There is much to learn and ponder in this historical sharing of our border neighbor. 

An important addition to the historical and alternative history genre. Highly recommended!


Grave of Leon Trotsky and wife in the
House of Leon Trotsky Museum located in
 Coyoacan borough in Mexico City

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