The Blue Rebozo is a fictionalized story based on facts the author had of her ancestors. I can appreciate Ms. Humphrey’s love for genealogy, as I share this passion. When I wrote my book based off of my late grandma’s life, it was done in a similar fashion, although I changed names and the story’s timeframe was more recent.
The setting for The Blue Rebozo is late nineteenth century Texas. The narrative is centralized around Petra, a young woman whose family came from Mexico when she was a child. The Ramirez family is large, with several children of various ages, and while I understand that large families were the norm for that time period, there were a lot of names to keep track of. I guess there’s really no way around this, but the large number of names mentioned made it hard for most of these characters to be developed much.
One of the nice elements of the story was the grandmother, Clara, who was Petra’s abuelita. Clara shares the tale of Leonor, who is the mother of Clara, and how she met and married Esteban. When they married, a blue rebozo (a blue scarf) was given to the bride, Leonor, to wear on her wedding day. The blue rebozo becomes a symbol of love that’s passed down the generations, from Leonor to Clara, to Jesusa (Clara’s daughter-in-law), to Petra (and eventually to Petra’s daughter, Candida). This was a nice touch. Many families have such heirlooms that have meaning. I have my grandma’s china, which belonged to her mother-in-law and is well over 100 years old now, so I understand and appreciate such objects. It’s like having a part of those who have gone before with you.
We follow Petra as she loses her first husband, Mr. Torres, to a stranger who stabbed him on a horse, to when she falls in love with Francisco, who has lived with her family for years and worked on the farm. Mr. Torres was older than Petra, and while he was a good man, Petra hadn’t been in love with him. I am a sucker for romance, so my favorite part was when Francisco confessed his love to Petra and she to him. As I read, I kept waiting with anticipation from that moment. Petra is still a young woman, after all, and has been left with three young kids to raise after losing her first husband. The fact that Francisco was in love with Petra for years before he told her melts my heart even more as the hopeless romantic. As a woman, wife, and mother, I know what it is to have one of the good guys. Those quiet fellows who smile and trip over their words, waiting for the right moment to say “I love you,” that’s gold.
The story reads smoothly and is easy to follow. As this is a novella, it’s not very long, which makes for a good book to read if you’re looking for something that isn’t going to take long to get through. I read this book in a few days during the summer. I have limited reading time, as I am also a writer and a mom of three young kids (like Petra), so finishing this novella wasn’t a problem. I suggest it as a light read for someone whose time is already stretched but is looking to read more books, maybe as a vacation read for this summer.
This is a story with heart. I would have liked to have seen more details fleshed out, as Petra, the main character, goes through a lot: falling in love and losing loved ones. It’s tragic how many children died young back then, and I cannot imagine the heartache it would have been on a mother (and father). This is a repeated theme in the story in every generation, and while Ms. Humphrey writes that the parents are saddened to lose a child, more details about the heart-wrenching agony would have driven this point home. Still, I suppose it is not something that is easy to write about in any circumstance, and unless a person has actually experienced such loss, it may be difficult to write about it convincingly
Overall, this is a good little story. I don’t wish to spoil it by saying too much, especially in regards to who dies (which is a lot of people, sadly), so I recommend you pick up this little book and give it a try.
4 out of 5 stars