The Name I Choose
A historical fiction novel about the experience of women in nineteenth century Spain
Set in nineteenth century Spain, fifteen-year-old Amalia is sold by her family to work as a housekeeper on the wealthy Tudós Estate. Amalia is expected to take care of the house and look after the family’s children, but the estate’s patriarch, Manuel Tudó, has a more sinister motive. Manuel is a violent, deceptive, manipulator and takes a sexual interest in the girl. He watches her closely and seeks every opportunity to catch her alone. Amalia is a sweet and naïve girl, who develops a close friendship with another maid who reminds her of her position in the household. When Tudó leaves the estate, Amalia is seduced by the duke of Cadiz, the future king of Spain. Amalia falls in love with the duke, but he quickly abandons her, and she discovers she is pregnant. Alone, penniless, and ruined, Amalia flees the estate and takes refuge with an older woman. The woman helps Amalia escape to the charming island of Menorca in the Balearic Sea, with the help of two English naval officers. Amalia hopes that her life will improve, but discovers the same patriarchal society exists on the small island. As she tries to make ends meet for herself and her child, she reaches the depths of despair. But, with the help of her new friends she discovers the shocking truth about her ancestors and heritage.
The Name I Choose by Holly Brough is a harrowing and heart wrenching historical fiction novel about a young woman who is torn from her family to work on a wealthy estate, and experiences horrific abuse from her master. This is a well-researched, beautifully written, and fast-paced novel, which explores the experience of women in nineteenth century Spain, when women had limited freedoms and few rights. The main protagonist Amalia is a believable, likeable and well-developed character. Despite her abandonment, neglect, and abuse, she never gives up hope. It was great to follow her journey from a sweet, naive young girl to a strong, courageous woman.
The book provides a fascinating insight into the culture of Spain in the nineteenth century, and the oppression that many women faced. A riveting good read and highly recommended.
Star rating: 5 Stars
Summary: A harrowing and heart wrenching historical fiction novel, and a riveting good read.