Apr 5, 2013

Book Review: House of Rocamora by Donald Michael Platt


Rocamora compared Rembrandt's appearance with that of another great artist, Velazquez, always well groomed and conscious of his handsome mien. Rembrandt, by way of contrast, is a disheveled unkempt man of gross peasant features and wild hair. Rocamora amused himself imagining how this rumpled genius would have fit into the Spanish Court. (ch. 4)
This novel continues the life of Vicente de Rocamora, former Dominican priest and confessor in the Spanish royal court of the 17th century. His life of political and religious intrigue and danger was outlined in the previous book, Rocamora, Vicente has left Spain to live in the Netherlands as a physician and has changed his name to Isaac in the follow-up novel, House of Rocamora.  In this book he also meets the famous artist Rembrandt.

Book description: A new life and a new name … House of Rocamora, a novel of the 17th century, continues the exceptional life of roguish Vicente de Rocamora, a former Dominican friar, confessor to the Infanta of Spain, and almost Inquisitor General.

 After Rocamora arrives in Amsterdam at age forty-two, asserts he is a Jew, and takes the name, “Isaac,” he revels in the freedom to become whatever he chooses for the first time in his life. Rocamora makes new friends, both Christian and Jew, including scholars, men of power and, typically, the disreputable. He also acquires enemies in the Sephardic community who believe he is a spy for the Inquisition or resent him for having been a Dominican.

As Isaac Israel de Rocamora, he studies Medicine at Leyden and, at age forty-six, receives a license to practice. That same year Rocamora weds twenty-five year old Abigail Touro, and together they raise a large family. During his time in Amsterdam, Rocamora has a bizarre encounter with Rembrandt, serves the House of Orange as physician, and advises Spinoza before the philosopher’s excommunication.

He survives a murder attempt, learns from the great English physician Harvey, and a surprise visit from a childhood friend leads to an unusual business venture. Life is never routine or dull for Rocamora. The intrigues start with his arrival in Amsterdam and do not end until he takes his last breath."

Title: House of Rocamora by Donald Michael Platt
Publication Date: November 19, 2012
Raven’s Wings Books paperback
Genre: historical novel

Here is my review of the previous book: Rocamora. Visit the author's website to find out more about how and why he wrote the books.

A review copy of this novel was provided through the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. Visit their website for other reviews of the Rocamora books. 

4 comments:

  1. These books sound interesting!

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  2. These books do sound very good! I hope you enjoy them all, Harvee.

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  3. This does sound like fun series. I have been thinking a lot about how writers play with the theme of identity lately and it sound as if Platt does so here.

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  4. Not sure if it's one that I would read or not, but I always enjoy your reviews.

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