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Finalist, Latino Book Awards, 2018: Historical Fiction

Chains of Silver

Claudia H. Long

Crypto-Jews, secret Jews of Spain and Mexico, are still very much in danger in 1721. Fourteen-year-old Marcela Leon’s parents are dragged away to face the last auto-da-fé of the Inquisition in colonial Mexico. Although her parents survive, her life is forever changed. Sent to the Castillo hacienda for her protection, Marcela has difficulty grasping that safety requires silence about her beliefs. Her forthright speech and budding sexuality lead her into situations beyond her comprehension, ending with her exile to the northern silver-mining town of Zacatecas, where she becomes housekeeper to a Catholic priest.

Marcela grows up to be one of the richest, most powerful women in Zacatecas, adjusting to her separation from her mother and the loss of her religion. But she can neither understand nor forgive her mother’s obstinacy and abandonment. Her husband’s death unleashes a new cascade of disasters, and Marcela at last recognizes and appreciates the source of her mother’s power, and her own.


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“Claudia H. Long writes this piece of work with obvious insight, creativity, and sensitivity. Thank you for a glimpse of life into what may have been my family.”

—Rabbi Elisheva Irma Diaz, MTS, DD


“A page-turning novel … Marcela is a contender. Love appears in myriad fashion in this story: between friends, a May–December attraction, maternal love, and love between men. I couldn’t put the book down.”

—Sandra Ramos O’Briant, author of The Sandoval Sisters’ Secret of Old Blood

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