The Madness of Mamá Carlota
by Graciela Limón
Publication Date: March 31, 2012
Bind: Trade Paperback
It’s 1852 in Cholula, Mexico, and three sisters, indigenous girls of the Chontal people, seek work at the Hacienda La Perla. They rapidly make their way from dish washers to the cook’s assistants before entering the house as servants to the wealthy Acuña family. But when the youngest sister is viciously raped by a family member, they flee the estate—after taking their revenge—only to be caught up in the historic Battle of Puebla, where native Mexicans defeat invading French troops.
Fearful that the Acuña family will not rest until the sisters are found and punished, they keep moving, ultimately finding work as servants at the National Palace in Mexico City, where the French have recently taken control. There, the sisters’ fortunes become intertwined with that of the Empress Carlota. Both beautiful and extremely intelligent, she dedicates herself to the empire, chastising Napoleon when he reneges on his promise to send troops and antagonizing the Church by proposing that the empire secularize at least part of its holdings. But her love for Mexico’s people is not reciprocated, and soon the sisters have to decide whether to stay behind without the empress’ protection or to accompany her to Europe.
Weaving the story of Mexico’s indigenous peoples with that of the tragic Belgian princess who became the wife of the Austrian Archduke Maximillian von Hapsburg, acclaimed author Graciela Limón once again explores issues of race, class and women’s rights. She skillfully crafts a gripping novel about a smart, wealthy woman who is not afraid to challenge powerful men, and re-imagines the story behind Empress Carlota’s descent into madness and eventual imprisonment in a remote European castle.
“Ms. Limón’s prose is self-assured and engrossing. . .Deserves a large audience.”
—The New York Times Book Review on In Search of Bernabé
—The Washington Post Book World on Song of the Hummingbird
“… should awaken the conscience and compassion that drive and haunt every reader … a novel of absolute stylistic and social integrity.”
—Booklist on The Memories of Ana Calderón
“Murder. Madness. Execution. Suicide. . .all the plot workings of an exciting modern take on Euripides’ Medea and the Mexican legend of La Llorona. . .Limón hits all the right notes.”
—Los Angeles Times on Left Alive
GRACIELA LIMÓN is the critically-acclaimed and award-winning author of four novels: The Day of the Moon (1999), Song of the Hummingbird (1996), The Memories of Ana Calderón (1994) and In Search of Bernabé (1993). In Search of Bernabé, translated and published in Spanish as En busca de Bernabé in 1997, is the recipient of an American Book Award. It was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times’ Art Sydenburg First Novel Award and was named a “Notable Book of the Year” by The New York Times Book Review. Limon is Professor Emeritus of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles where she served as a professor of U.S. Latina/o Literature and Chair of the Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies.