Book Review: Woman of a Thousand Secrets by Barbara Wood
Title: Woman of a Thousand Secrets
Author: Barbara Wood
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
From: Barnes and Noble
Barbara Wood’s novel Woman of a Thousand Secrets (2008) is similar to a soap opera. It contains murder, love, sex, ambition, and action, all wrapped up into one novel about a young woman living during the time of the Mayan empire.
Tonina, the main character, is a young woman living on Pearl Island with her adoptive grandparents. She dives for pearls, helping the island sustain itself through trade with the mainland. Very soon her adoptive grandparents decide that Tonina must leave, as she is too different to stay and no man has shown interest in her. They explain how they discovered her in a basket on the ocean and took her in, and that she must go to the mainland to find a flower and save her grandfather from an imaginary illness. Tonina goes to the mainland on her own, and there she meets a young man in a cage, frees him, and the two run and hide from the men that kidnapped the young man. They reach Mayapan, a large Mayan city, where they befriend a dwarf.
Tonina remains on her quest for the flower, but at the same time is on a new quest: to learn more of the city she now lives in. She becomes part of Kaan’s life, a famous ball player. The two then go on a special quest for each other: Kaan to save his recently deceased wife’s soul, Tonina to find the flower to save her grandfather. While on their trek, they gain followers until rumors spread and more and more people want to join, or some leave at different stops.
The story is basically about two different quests Tonina goes on: one for the magical healing flower, and one about who she is. Kaan helps her discover who she is, as he is not Mayan either, but of some different race. Wood delves deeply into personal discovery and thought throughout the novel. Kaan’s personal discovery of who he is is similar to Tonina’s, even though their upbringing was widely different. Wood also looks into reasons why people do things. This is a common thing that ties different novels together, wondering why people do what they do. It’s what ties this novel together: why Tonina must find out who she is, why Kaan later wants to know who he is.
The one thing that took time for me to get used to what Barbara Wood’s writing style. She wrote very simply, explaining things for the reader and put lots of details and actions within the text in a small space. It was nice not to have to think about what I was reading, but at the same time I wanted to be able to use my imagination.
This was definitely a great summer beach read, and I definitely recommend it to anyone that wants an easy, interesting, and entertaining novel to relax to.
This novel is available at Barnes and Noble, as well as at Amazon.com. If you like Barbara Wood’s writing style and subjects, her works continue with other novels such as Daughter of the Sun and The Blessing Stone, both of which are great novels.