I’ve recently reviewed Rocamora (click on the title for the review), by Donald Michael Platt. Today, I have a review of its sequel, House of Rocamora – a novel that is even more rich with history and intrigue than its predecessor.
Both novels surround the life of Vicente de Rocamora, a brave, bold, passionate, religious (formerly of the Dominican Order) man living in 17th Century Spain during the height of bloodshed in the late times of the Spanish Inquisition. We follow his life as various court intrigue, ambitions, and circumstances lead him into new adventures and quests.
In House of Rocamora, he arrives in Amsterdam and trains for a new job in medicine. He marries a woman much younger than him and creates a family, taking on the persona of a Jewish man. Platt’s detail of Amsterdam and Judaism in that area at that time was an interesting add to the details of Vicente’s life. Though I am not Jewish, it particularly interested me beyond the protagonist’s life, because my ancestors once fled England for Amsterdam somewhat prior to Vicente (late 1600s). I had no idea of the Jewish sect living in this area. I love reading about other religions and cultures and how they all melded together (or didn’t) in various periods.
As stated in the first book, Rocamora, Vicente was a real character from history, mostly forgotten possibly due to historical cover-up of most of the Spanish Inquisition time period when so many Jews were killed. I loved reading how exciting a life Vicente lived. A reader would mostly certainly want to read Rocamora first, which starts following Vicente from his teenage years, and then, continue on with his life story in House of Rocamora, when he is almost 50.
What an intriguing character Platt has penned in Vicente. Not only is he well-researched, Platt’s imagination has embellished and elevated him with tremendous force. He’s such a strong and interesting character–a forward-thinker, ambitious, and well-rounded. Platt once again brings the reader an amazing amount of historical detail and this book would be for the reader who likes a large amount of historical detail in their novels (though it does meld better into the storytelling within this sequel).
It’s phenomenal to think how many personas and professions one man could merge into, always making a difference in everything he does. His life is a great story and probably should be a television mini-series. Not only does it have 17th Century Spanish politics, culture, and intrigue, his story also has him taking on a new identity, learning a new religion and language, and reinventing himself at every turn. No wonder he’s called the man of masks, as he wears many.
Platt again delivers a well-written, interesting, and even more entertaining historical tale in his sequel, House of Rocamora. I highly recommend reading Rocamora for its accurate historical detail and interesting story, then encourage you to continue with House of Rocamora for its entertaining suspense and intriguing tale.
HOUSE OF ROCAMORA, Synopsis~
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.
Donald Michael Platt, Biography~
Born and raised inside San Francisco, I graduated from Lowell High School and received my B.A. in History from the University of California at Berkeley and won a batch of literary cash awards while in graduate school at San Jose State.
When I moved to southern California, I began my professional writing career. I sold to the TV series, MR. NOVAK, ghosted YOUR HAIR AND YOUR DIET for health food guru, Dan Dale Alexander, and wrote for and with diverse producers, among them as Harry Joe Brown, Sig Schlager, Albert J. Cohen, and Al Ruddy as well as Paul Stader Sr., dean of Hollywood stuntman and stunt/2nd unit director. Also, options were taken on my unpublished WWII fighter ace novel and several treatments.
After living in Florianópolis, Brazil, setting of my horror novel A GATHERING OF VULTURES, Dark Hart 2007, Briona Glen 2012, I moved to Florida where I wrote as a with: VITAMIN ENRICHED, pub.1999, for Carl DeSantis, founder of Rexall Sundown Vitamins; and THE COUPLE’S DISEASE, Finding a Cure for Your Lost “Love” Life, pub. 2002, for Lawrence S. Hakim, MD, FACS, Head of Sexual Dysfunction Unit at the Cleveland Clinic.
Currently, I reside in Winter Haven, Florida. My magnum opus historical novel, ROCAMORA, set in 17th century Spain and Amsterdam during their Golden Ages, was released by RAVEN’S WING BOOKS at the end of December 2008. It has been republished by Briona Glen, September 2011. My completed sequel HOUSE OF ROCAMORA was published by Briona Glen November 2012, and I am polishing a completed novel set in the 9th century Carolingian Empire about another unusual historical character, Bodo, the Apostate.
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