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When Malinalli, a member of the tribe conquered by the Aztec warriors, first meets Cortés, she -- like many -- believes that he is the reincarnated forefather god of her tribe. Naturally, she assumes that her task is to help Cortés destroy the Aztec empire and free her people. The two fall passionately in love, but Malinalli gradually comes to realize that Cortés's thirst for conquest is all too human. He is willing to destroy anyone, even his own men, even their own love.
Throughout Mexican history, Malinalli has been reviled for her betrayal of the Indian people. However, recent historical research has shown that her role was much more complex; she was the mediator between two cultures, Hispanic and Native American, and two languages, Spanish and Náhuatl.
Bursting with lyricism and vivid imagery, Malinche finally unveils the truth behind this legendary love affair.
Through the eyes of the historical native woman of the novel's title, Esquivel (Like Water for Chocolate) reveals the defeat and destruction of Montezuma's 16th-century Mexicas empire at the hands of Spanish conquistador Hern n Cort s. Malinche, also called Malinalli, was sold into slavery as a child and later became "The Tongue," Cort s's interpreter and lover remembered by history as a traitor for her contribution to the brutal Spanish triumph. In her lyrical but flawed fifth novel, Esquivel details richly imagined complications for a woman trapped between the ancient Mexicas civilization and the Spaniards. Esquivel revels in descriptions of the role of ancient gods in native life and Malinalli's theological musings on the similarities between her belief system and Christianity. But what the book offers in anthropological specificity, it lacks in narrative immediacy, even while Esquivel also imagines Cort s's point of view. The author also packs the arc of Malinalli's life into a relatively short novel: she bears Cort s an illegitimate son, marries another Spaniard and has a daughter before her sad demise. The resulting disjointed storytelling gives short shrift to this complex heroine, a woman whose role in Mexican history is controversial to this day. 13-city author tour.