Inés of My Soul
I picked this up randomly at the library; I’ve really loved Isabel Allende’s other novels that I’ve read, and 16th century Chile sounds like a pretty interesting place.
I should have realized, given my feelings on Native Americans – I really hate the story of the First Thanksgiving. Ever since I was a kid, I wondered: “If the Pilgrims and the Indians were such good friends, then why are there no more Indians?” – that reading the story of conquistadores would not be up my particular alley.
The protagonist, Inés, is the consort of Pedro de Valdavia, conqueror and first gobenador of Chile. A hero in her own right, Inés is granted the title of gobenadora and more political power than was bestowed upon women in her time. Inés, herself, as a character is compelling for her strength and wisdom. The men in the story seem a bit flat, but the story doesn’t really allow for them to be too multi-dimensional if they’re off conquering “The ass end of the world” from the unruly natives.
And here comes my problem. My sympathies, entirely, lie with the unruly natives. Despite knowing from history that Chile was indeed conquered, I wanted the Spanish to be defeated by the fearsome Mapuche. I didn’t feel any sympathy for the Spanish when their settlements were burned or their soldiers killed, but rather a perverse glee. I suppose this is an odd feeling for a white American who has ancestors who literally came over on the Mayflower and were present at some version of aforementioned First Thanksgiving, but the conquest of the Americas is, and has always been, troublesome to me. Ultimately, this wasn’t the book’s fault, but I had trouble maintaining interest in the story nonetheless.