The Canary Connection

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In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Even those of us who didn’t grow up hearing that rhyme have seen it someplace, as a mnemonic so we don’t forget what year Christopher Columbus made his famous voyage to the Caribbean. Anyone who went to a standard American school knows the rest of the story: Columbus thought he was going to India and called the inhabitants of the islands he found “Indians”; he returned to Spain with treasures, including parrots and gold, and his expedition opened the way to European colonization of the Americas, with all the good and bad that came with it.

The Canary Connection brings a new perspective to this story, but it does far more than that. In 1492, the king and queen of Spain also expelled Jews from their country. At the same time as Europe was entering a golden age of exploration, it was carrying on a story of discrimination. Because they occurred at the same time, the events are connected and ought to be in any retelling of this history.

The author brings a rich world to life, effortlessly crafting three disparate settings. Whether the story takes place in Spain, the Canary Islands, or the Caribbean, all my senses were alight with the sights, sounds, and smells of the past. Both good and bad aspects are present, showing that the past is not just one thing. It could be a horrible time to live, but it was also full of wonder, and people in the fifteenth century had as much love and hope as anyone in the twenty-first.

The plots in the book follow the same pattern as history did; each could stand on its own, but when woven together, they form a far greater whole. Dante and Revela, a pair of Spanish siblings on the run, provide the points of view that bring it all together. After Dante stabs a soldier in a fight, they flee on a ship headed south, to the Canary Islands. To blend in, they pretend to be a married Jewish couple. When they separate, Revela remains with the Jews while Dante sails West, headed for new lands alongside Columbus. While most of the chapters revolve around the siblings, others follow Columbus himself, showing his hopes and doubts about his journey. Still others focus on a young woman, Lily, caught up in the worst of the Inquisition. At first I didn’t know how Lily’s chapters would fit in with the rest of the narrative, but by the end everything had come together in a cohesive story.

The Canary Connection is a fascinating look at a part of history so many of us think we know, showing there’s always more to the tale.

Reviewed By:

Author Phillip Spolin
Star Count /5
Format Hard
Page Count 332 pages
Publisher Focus Line Productions
Publish Date 2018-09-20
ISBN 9781641365352 Buy this Book
Issue April 2019
Category Historical Fiction


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