Title: Señor Peregrino
Author: Cecilia Samartin
First published January 1, 2005
367 pages, Paperback
ISBN: 9788282050173 (ISBN10: 8282050172)
“Why did the children throw stones at me, Mama?” Jamilet is an extraordinarily beautiful girl in a dusty Mexican village, but hides a grotesque birthmark beneath her clothes. It seems as though she has been touched by the devil himself.
Hoping to be like everyone else, Jamilet flees to the USA where she finds work taking care of the elderly Señor Peregrino. When he begins to tell her about his personal pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella, everything changes.
Señor Peregrino is a poetic and surprising tale about never losing faith in love. It is a story about daring to live on the fragile line between fantasy and reality.
The story of Jamilet continues in La Peregrina. About the author: Cecilia Samartin (born 1961) grew up in Cuba during the revolution before escaping to the USA.
She has a degree in family therapy and has worked on a project to improve the living conditions of the poorest in Los Angeles. She made her debut as an author in 2004 with the novel Dream Heart.
About the Author
I came into this world in Cuba during the revolution, but my family left when I was just nine months old. I don’t have any personal recollections of my birthplace, but I’ve heard countless stories from my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins that have stayed with me over the years.
Growing up in a peaceful Los Angeles neighborhood, I harbored a secret desire to become a writer. However, after completing high school, I chose to pursue psychology and eventually became a marriage and family therapist.
Looking back, I’m grateful for that decision because my experiences as a therapist ultimately helped me confront my fears and chase my dream to become a writer.
As an immigrant myself, I’ve worked with many clients over the years who share a similar background. Consequently, many of my stories revolve around the themes of displacement, searching for a sense of belonging, and identity in a new land.
When it comes to my writing, I consider myself more of a storyteller than a writer. I think this is because, like a therapist, I enjoy engaging in conversations with my audience.
Hearing from my readers is incredibly fulfilling, and it motivates me to keep writing. It’s amazing to learn from others and be inspired by their stories.
Cecilia Samartin’s Señor Peregrino is a captivating and poignant work of historical fiction that explores themes of love, loss, and identity. The book, first published on January 1, 2005, takes readers on an emotional journey through the life of a mysterious traveler known as Señor Peregrino.
Samartin, a Cuban-American author, is known for her ability to craft compelling and intricate narratives that capture the complexities of the human experience. In Señor Peregrino, she weaves a rich tapestry of historical and cultural references that underscore the profound impact of colonialism on Latin America.
At its heart, Señor Peregrino is a love story that follows the journey of a man who has lost everything—including his identity. The novel takes place in the late 16th century, in the midst of the Spanish conquest of the Americas.
Señor Peregrino, a Spanish soldier, is sent to Mexico to fight against the Aztecs. After a series of traumatic events, he becomes disillusioned with the brutality of the conquest and sets out on a quest for redemption and self-discovery.
The character development in Señor Peregrino is superb. Samartin takes great care to explore the psychological and emotional landscape of her characters, imbuing them with a sense of depth and nuance that makes them feel like real people.
Señor Peregrino is a complex and multifaceted protagonist, whose inner struggles serve as a powerful allegory for the trauma and displacement experienced by many Latin Americans during the colonial period. The pacing of Señor Peregrino is uneven at times, with the first few chapters feeling disjointed and slow-moving.
However, as the story progresses, the plot picks up steam and builds to a deeply satisfying and emotionally resonant conclusion. One of the book’s strengths is its exploration of historical and cultural themes.
Samartin delves into the violent legacy of colonialism in Latin America, drawing attention to the ways in which European conquerors upended traditional indigenous cultures and imposed their own values and beliefs. She also touches on issues of gender and power, highlighting the ways in which women were often marginalized and silenced in colonial societies.
Overall, Señor Peregrino is a masterful work of historical fiction that will leave readers deeply moved and intellectually engaged. While it is not without its flaws, the novel’s strengths far outweigh its weaknesses, making it a must-read for anyone interested in Latin American literature or the legacy of colonialism.
I would give Señor Peregrino a rating of 4 out of 5 stars.