|About the Book|
If youd like to listen to a song called Catalina or see what the tattoo on my back looks like click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cK7mYY...I tried to do a little bit of research to find out more about this novel but all Ive come across are references to the book using a very crude google search.This is Maughams last novel and its an historical one set in 16th century Spain. Its about an beautiful crippled girl who through a visit by the Virgin Mary is miraculously cured. If I were more educated about 16th century Spanish culture I might know if she is part of a true story, I think that there might be a true story about this cure and possibly the religious figures involved. Later in the book she happens across an insane knight-errant and his squire who rides a donkey, the names arent given of these two but Im pretty positive the knight might have been out jousting windmills before the scene hes in takes place. Again Im slightly ignorant about some things, so I dont know if there was a young woman named Catalina who meets up with this knight in his published adventures and if the heroine of this novel is jumping through stories like a less conspicuous Thursday Next. The novel ends with its namesake becoming a renowned actress, which again could be based on a real person at the time. I like to think that book is actually a juxtaposition of three different fictional and non-fictional stories into one creative narrative, but I have only the clue of Don Quixote popping up in the middle of this book as a clue.Stranger than the possible conjectures about the plot is the printing history of this book. I dont know if when you look up at the cover of the book if you see the Harlequin cover that I chose, but if you dont then just think about it being a Harlequin Romance cover. The cover of the edition I own is even bawdier than the Harlequin on and promises a lusty story. The promise is sort of a lie though. The story is actually quite virginal. There are no bodices being ripped open and while there is a scene where the teenage Catalina would love to get some lovin the book is on the whole very wholesome in carnal matters. But ignoring the raciness of the covers (keep in mind mass-markets of the 1950s were very sensational and usually a lot more exciting than the actual novels turned out to be) its mind-boogling that it was a Harlequin novel. According to an encyclopedia the novel was originally serialized in Harpers and entitled Windmills. Then it was released as a book in a 1948. It seemed to have sold fairly well and was a book of the month club selection, and well it was a novel by the author of Of Human Bondage, Razors Edge and Cakes and Ale, respected books. Maugham lived for another fourteen years after Catalina was released, so he was alive when in 1954 it was released as a Harlequin Romance (Romance number 266 to be exact).I want to know why it was released in this format? At first I was thinking that maybe Maugham was dead when it happened, and someone in his estate was cashing in. And I thought it would be as strange as say if a year or two from now one of John Updikes book came out re-issued in between The Greeks Unwilling Conquest and Spread for the Sheik. Now that I know he was still alive Im thinking of it like Philip Roth deciding that Dying Animal should get the trashy romance treatment one month.But what about the novel? It was ok. It was written in a very conventional manner. The characters and their backstories were better than the novel as a whole though. I personally liked all the religious stuff about the inquisition and warring factions of priests and nuns but if you arent as interested in the sordid and convoluted history of the Catholic Church and its various heresies you might find Maugham spends a bit too much time on the religion aspect of the story and not enough on the romance.