Zorro: A Novel

by

Author:  Isabel Allende

Title:  Zorro: A Novel

Genre:  Historical Fiction, Latino

Publication Date:  2005

Number of Pages:  390

Geographical Setting:  Barcelona, Spain and Southern California

Time Period:  1790-1815

Series:  None

Plot Summary:  Allende’s retelling of the legend of Zorro goes all the way back to the beginning of the legend when Diego de la Vega was born to an aristocratic hidalgo and his Native American wife.  Because of his biracial background Diego is always aware of his outsider status, and from childhood he is sensitive to the injustices that the Spanish colonies commit against the local tribes.  Diego’s affinity for the oppressed is also strengthened by his friendship with Bernardo, his Indian blood brother.

In their early teens, the boys are sent to Spain so that Diego can receive a formal education.  While there, Diego begins fencing training with master Manuel Escalante and begins to follow the path that will lead him to membership in La Justicia, a secret society dedicated to fighting all forms of social injustice, and the creation of his alter ego Zorro.  After numerous adventures in Spain, Diego and his trusted confidante Bernardo must return to California to defend his father’s honor and estate in a fantastic duel that confirms Zorro’s identity as a bold, dashing, and noble hero.

Subject Headings:  Zorro, Secret Societies, Fencing, Aristocracy, Slavery, Justice, Native Americans, California-History-19th century, Spain-History-19th century, Adventure Stories

Appeal:  accessible, action-oriented, cinematic, detailed setting, dramatic, engaging, engrossing, fast paced, historical details, humorous, resolved ending, strong secondary characters

3 terms that best describe this book: cinematic, suspenseful, playful

Similar Authors and Works:

Nonfiction

Zorro Unmasked:  The Official History by Sandra R. Curtis.  This book traces the historical origins of the legendary character, based in part on an actual California bandido.  Zorro’s legacy and influence on subsequent pop culture figures, such as Bruce Wayne/Batman are also examined.

Schools and Masters of Fencing: From the Middle Ages to the Eighteenth Century by Egerton Castle.  This readable and high illustrated volume is considered the definitive work on fencing history and the art of European swordsmanship.  This history includes the types of lessons that Diego learned from Master Escalante.

Lands of Promise and Despair: Chonicles of Early California, 1535-1846 by Rose Marie Beebe and Robert M. Senkewicz.  Conflicts between missionaries and soldiers, Indians and non-Indians, Hispanics and Anglos are brought to life through the letters, journals, interrogations and interviews collected in this book of primary resources.

Fiction

Cassandra, Lost by Joanna Catherine Scott.  A young woman from 18th century America elopes to France with a charming French aristocrat.  Upon arrival in France, they find themselves caught up in the midst of the French Revolution.  Cassandra’s observations of the tragedy and destitution of the French people forever change her life.  The novel features the same level of lush imagery as Allende’s tale.

In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez.  This novel tells a fictionalized account of the courageous story of the Mirabel sisters, who stood up tot he injustices of the Trujillo regime in the Dominican Republic in the 1950s.

The House of the Lagoon by Rosario Ferre.  This novel tells the story of two families in Puerto Rico, whose lives are interwoven through marriage and business.  The novel focuses on the conflicts around race, class, and Puerto Rico’s changing relationship with Spain and the United States.

Name: Amanda

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