In this thrilling new historical novel, award-winning author Cecilia Velástegui again demonstrates her talent for creating spellbinding and haunting period pieces. Lucía Zárate is based on the poignant, real-life odyssey of the world’s smallest woman.
Pretty and gregarious, Lucía Zárate was just twenty inches tall. A celebrity after her ‘display’ at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition, Lucía’s extraordinary, heartbreaking story is one of exploitation by greedy sideshow hucksters and a fishbowl existence on the road, from New York to Victorian London.
Snatched away from her parents at the age of twelve from Veracruz, Mexico, minuscule Lucía Zárate began her life’s arduous journey among Frank Uffner’s traveling troupe, in the care of an interpreter and protector. Despite Velástegui’s rigorous and extensive research, the name of Lucía’s interpreter has disappeared with the dust of time. Nonetheless, Velástegui masterfully creates Zoila, Lucía’s companion, as a character of depth and emotion.
Zoila is a woman who’s felt the sting of exploitation and exile at the hands of powerful vanilla traders in Mexico: her linguistic talents, wily temperament and compassion help her protect Lucía at all costs. She foils kidnapping attempts, teaches Lucía how to hold her own among European royalty, and facilitates a budding romance between Lucía and General Mite, a member of the traveling troupe of little people.
We follow the adventures of diminutive Lucía Zárate and the devoted Zoila as they grapple with life and death, finding joy and adventure in their bumpy sideshow journey of more than fifteen years. This is an artfully balanced novel that is a mesmerizing tale of survival, resilience, and the uplifting force of friendship.