The Forgetting River by Doreen Carvajal
A Modern Tale of Survival, Identity, and the Inquisition

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 5 Critic Reviews



The unexpected and moving story of an American journalist who works to uncover her family’s long-buried Jewish ancestry in Spain.

Raised a Catholic in California, New York Times journalist Doreen Carvajal is shocked when she discovers that her background may actually be connected to conversos in Inquisition-era Spain , Jews who were forced to renounce their faith and convert to Christianity or face torture and death. With vivid childhood memories of Sunday sermons, catechism, and the rosary, Carvajal travels to the south of Spain, to the centuries-old Andalucian town of Arcos de la Frontera, to investigate her lineage and recover her family’s original religious heritage.

In Arcos, Carvajal is struck by the white pueblo's ancient beauty and the difficulty she encounters in probing the town's own secret history of the Inquisition. She comes to realize that fear remains a legacy of the Inquisition along with the cryptic messages left by its victims. Back at her childhood home in California, Carvajal uncovers papers documenting a family of Carvajals who were burned at the stake in the 16th-century territory of Mexico. Could the author’s family history be linked to the hidden history of Arcos? And could the unfortunate Carvajals have been her ancestors?

As she strives to find proof that her family had been forced to convert to Christianity six-hundred years ago, Carvajal comes to understand that the past flows like a river through time –and that while the truth might be submerged, it is never truly lost.

About Doreen Carvajal

See more books from this Author
DOREEN CARVAJAL is a Paris-based reporter for The New York Times and a senior writer for the International Herald Tribune covering European issues. She has more than twenty-five years of journalism experience covering a broad range of subjects, from politics and immigration to book publishing and the media. She lives with her family near Paris.
Published August 16, 2012 by Riverhead Books. 321 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Religion & Spirituality, Travel. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Forgetting River

Kirkus Reviews

See more reviews from this publication

In the aftermath of 9/11, Paris-based New York Times journalist Carvajal began to experience “a strange yearning for something indefinable—a sense of refuge, of belonging.” She also wanted to “fill in the deep, black holes” of memory that persisted in her Catholic family's history.

Jun 15 2012 | Read Full Review of The Forgetting River: A Moder...

Publishers Weekly

See more reviews from this publication

Unable to shake that feeling, Carvajal, a Paris-based reporter for the New York Times and International Herald Tribune, moved to the old Spanish town of Arcos de la Frontera in search of her family’s “discarded identity,” believing the family was connected to the Spanish Inquisition and exp...

Jun 11 2012 | Read Full Review of The Forgetting River: A Moder...

Christian Science Monitor

Are we best defined by the language we speak, the schools we attend, the religion our parents subscribe to, or the country that offers us citizenship?

Aug 16 2012 | Read Full Review of The Forgetting River: A Moder...


BlogHer creates opportunities for more than 55 million women who blog and their readers to gain exposure, education, community, and economic empowerment.

Nov 08 2012 | Read Full Review of The Forgetting River: A Moder...

Story Circle Book Reviews

©Copyright to the review is held by the writer (review posting date appears on the review page).

Oct 02 2012 | Read Full Review of The Forgetting River: A Moder...

Reader Rating for The Forgetting River

An aggregated and normalized score based on 41 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes

Rate this book!

Add Review