I always love Colin Falconer's characterisation, pace and humour. Once again, his sense of time and place is mesmerising, but for me the finely drawn characters, the dialogue and the empathy he elicits for his heroes are what pull me in. A real page turner, I read it in one day.
In this novel, author Colin Falconer sweeps readers into 15th century Seville after the Reconquista. At the heart of the story is Diego Sanchis, Seville's most sought after, most talented artist. His work is prolific and graces the walls of every church in the country. But what is most fascinating about this character is his faults - for he is ugly, bitter, and an outspoken dwarf. He has been bullied, shunned, abused, and made fun of all his life. His life experiences shaped him into a man with a vitriolic tongue and low self-esteem. It is only through his work that he gains respect and fame. Oh, and did I mention that he might be Jewish? A danger in itself and another strike against him.
One day, he is tasked with teaching art to a beautiful young woman, Mencia Goncalvez, the daughter of a rich and powerful man. At first, he resents being her mentor and only wishes to put an end to his obligation. But soon, their relationship changes into something much more meaningful, more powerful.
Colin Falconer delves deep into the psyche of both characters as they strive to live in a most dangerous era. History and romance combines in this highly entertaining novel. I fell in love with Diego and his biting sarcasm and propensity to be bluntly honest. He is real, loveable, and easy to sympathize with. Likewise is Mencia who struggles to break through the norms of the era to become an artist by her own right.
Another winning novel by Colin Falconer that is filled with wit and suspense! Beautifully rendered and highly recommended!