An elaborately woven novel of intrigue about one of America's most curious and enduring legends the enigma of the Lady in Blue
In Los Angeles, Jennifer Narody has been having a series of disturbing dreams involving eerie images of a lady dressed in blue. What she doesn't know is that this same spirit appeared to leaders of the Jumano Native American tribe in New Mexico 362 years earlier, and was linked to a Spanish nun capable of powers of "bilocation," or the ability to be in two places simultaneously. Meanwhile, young journalist Carlos Albert is driven by a blinding snowstorm to the little Spanish town of Ágreda, where he stumbles upon a nearly forgotten seventeenth-century convent founded by this same legendary woman. Intrigued by her rumored powers, he delves into finding out more. These threads, linked by an apparent suicide, eventually lead Carlos to Cardinal Baldi, to an American spy, and ultimately to Los Angeles, where Jennifer Narody unwittingly holds the key to the mystery that the Catholic Church, the U.S. Defense Department, and the journalist are each determined to decipher the Lady in Blue.
|Publisher:||Recorded Books, LLC|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 1.50(h) x 5.00(d)|
About the Author
Javier Sierra, whose works have been translated into forty languages, is the author of The Lost Angel, The Lady in Blue, and the New York Times bestselling novel The Secret Supper. One of the most accomplished authors on the Spanish literary scene, Sierra studied journalism at the Complutense University of Madrid. El Maestro del Prado spent a year on the bestseller list in Spain, gaining the admiration of art experts, aficionados, and critics. A native of Teruel, Spain, he currently lives in Madrid with his wife and two children.
Date of Birth:August 11, 1971
Place of Birth:Teruel, Spain
Education:Journalism studies at the Complutense University, Madrid, 1989-1995
Read an Excerpt
Treading with a light step, Father Giuseppe Baldi left the Piazza San Marco at sunset.
As was his custom, he walked along the canal to the Riva degli Schiavoni, where he took the first vaporetto headed to San Giorgio Maggiore. The island that appeared on every postcard of Venice was once upon a time the property of his religious order, and the old priest always regarded it with nostalgia. Time had brought many changes. Omnia mutantur. Everything was subject to change these days. Even a faith with two thousand years of history behind it.
Baldi consulted his wristwatch, undid the last button of his habit, and, while scanning the boat for a seat close to the window, took the opportunity to clean the lenses of his tiny, wire-rimmed glasses. "Pater noster qui es in caelis...," he murmured in Latin.
With his glasses on, the Benedictine watched as the city of four hundred bridges stretched out before him, tinged a deep orange.
"...sanctificetur nomen tuum..."
Without interrupting his prayer, the priest admired the evening as he glanced discreetly to either side.
"Everything as it should be," he thought to himself.
The vaporetto, the familiar water bus used by Venetians to get from place to place, was almost empty at this hour. Only a few Japanese and three scholarship students whom Baldi recognized as being from the Giorgio Cini Foundation seemed interested in the ride.
"Why am I still doing this?" he asked himself. "Why am I still watching the other six-o'clock passengers out of the corners of my eyes, as if I was going to find that one of them was carrying a journalist's camera? Haven't I already spent enough years holed up on this island, far from them?"
Fourteen minutes later, the water bus dropped him off on an ugly concrete dock. A gust of cold air burst in as he opened the cabin door, and everyone braced against the night air. No one paid any attention as he disembarked.
In his heart of hearts, Baldi cherished his undisturbed life on the island. When he arrived at his cell, he would wash, change his shoes, eat dinner with the community, and then bury himself in reading or correcting exams. He had followed that daily ritual since he had arrived at the abbey nineteen years before. Nineteen years of peace and tranquillity, certainly. But he was always on guard, waiting for a call, a letter, or an unannounced visit. That was his punishment. The kind of load that is never lifted from one's shoulders.
Baldi restrained himself from giving in to his obsession.
Was there a more agreeable life than the one his studies afforded him? He knew the answer was no. His various duties as professor of pre-polyphony at the Benedetto Marcello Conservatory allowed him the peace of mind that had always eluded him as a young man. His students were hardworking. They attended his lectures with moderate enthusiasm and listened as he explained the music of the first millennium, spicing his lectures with interesting anecdotes. In short, they respected him. The faculty admired him as well, even though he sometimes missed classes because he was absorbed in his research.
And yet, such a stress-free environment never managed to distract him from his other pursuits. They were so "confidential" and long-standing that he had rarely even mentioned them to anyone.
Baldi had come to San Giorgio in 1972, exiled for crimes owing to music. The Cini Foundation offered him more than he would have dared to request from his superior: one of the best libraries in Europe; a convention center that on more than one occasion had hosted UNESCO conferences; and two scholarly institutions dedicated to Venetian music and ethnomusicology that so intoxicated him. To a certain extent, it was logical that the Benedictines had made the effort to create that paradise of musicology at San Giorgio. Who if not the brothers of the Order of Saint Benedict would busy themselves with such devotion to that ancient art? Was it not Saint Benedict himself who, once he had established the rules for his order in the sixth century, went on to create the fundamentals of modern musical science?
Baldi had studied the subject thoroughly. He was the first, for example, to appreciate that Saint Benedict's decree, which required all members of his order to attend eight religious services a day, was based entirely on music. A fascinating secret. In fact, the prayers that he and his brothers recited daily were inspired by the "modes" still employed in the composition of melodies. Baldi proved that matins (the prayers said at two in the morning during wintertime) corresponded to the note do, and lauds, recited at dawn, corresponded to re. The offices of the first, the third, and the sixth hours, performed at six, nine, and twelve noon, corresponded to mi, fa, and sol. And the hour of strongest light, none, at three in the afternoon, corresponded to la, while the prayers recited at dusk, during the setting of the sun, corresponded to ti.
That was the class that had made him famous among his students. "Notes and hours are related!" he would boom from his podium. "To pray and to compose are parallel activities! Music is the true language of God!"
And yet Baldi the old soldier had still other discoveries hidden in his study. His thesis was astounding. He believed, for example, that the ancients not only knew harmony and applied it, via mathematics, to music, but that harmony was capable of provoking altered states of consciousness that permitted priests and initiates in the classical world to gain access to "superior" realms of reality. He defended his idea over the course of decades, doing battle with those who asserted that such sensations of spiritual elevation were always brought about by means of hallucinatory drugs, sacred mushrooms, or other psychotropic substances.
"And how exactly did they 'use' music?" Baldi would ask rhetorically, becoming more animated. He admitted that for the wise men of history it was enough to develop a mental "wavelength" adequate for the reception of information from "far away." It was said that in this state, those adept in magic could reawaken any moment in the past, no matter how remote. Put another way, according to Baldi, music modulated the frequency of our brain waves, stimulating centers of perception capable of navigating through time.
But these techniques, he explained with great resignation, had been lost.
While many questioned Baldi's outlandish ideas, even the fiercest polemics had in no way soured his jovial and friendly outlook. His silver hair, athletic deportment, and honest face gave him the look of an irresistible conqueror. No one seriously believed he was seventy-five years old. In fact, had it not been for his vow of chastity, Baldi would have broken the hearts of many of his female students.
That day, serenely unaware of the events that were about to unfold, Baldi smiled as he entered the Benedictine residence, walking at his usual lively pace. He hardly even noticed Brother Roberto waiting for him in the doorway, looking as if he had something urgent to tell him.
Copyright © 2007 by Javier Sierra
Translation copyright © 2007 by Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Reading Group Guide
Questions and Topics for Discussion
1. Javier Sierra takes us through his novel via four main locations as well as two different time frames. How did the 1630s' story line in New Mexico enhance your understanding of the 1990s' plot lines and threads? At what point did the stories fuse to help you decipher the religious conspiracy theory? Did the plot twists and turns take the path you anticipated? How?
2. Father Corso's death was deemed suicide due to "high anxiety." Do you think that Father Baldi trusted this information, or did he have doubts about the validity of this interpretation and his personal safety as well? Why do you think Corso erased his hard drive in his last minutes on earth? Did he sense the end was near?
3. Cardinal Zsidiv introduced Father Baldi to Chronovision, and they had a long-standing friendship/business relationship spanning approximately forty years. Although Zsidiv was team leader and project coordinator of the four saints, did Sierra lead you to believe he might not be trustworthy, especially in light of his sudden disappearance when the statue of St. Veronica exploded? How did his existence and the existence of the Chronovision experiment impact the story?
4. Several apparitions of the Lady in Blue warn the Jumanos of the arrival of the conquistadors. Why is it that so many Jumanos were able to see her and decipher her message? How did her appearances further the spread of Christianity in that region? What did you know about the Jumanos and their conversion to Christianity before reading this novel?
5. The Franciscan friars in New Mexico are baffled by the ready conversion of the Native Americans to Christianity. They first believed that the Lady in Blue was our Lady of Guadalupe (the Holy Mother). At what point did you comprehend the author's theory that she was actually a bilocating Spanish nun? Discuss why this theory does or does not ring true to you. Why do you think the legend is well known in the Southwest but not in Europe?
6. Dr. Linda Meyers tries to explain Jennifer Narody's dreams with a number of scientific theories like Stendhal Syndrome, a brain tumor, somnimnesia, and Dostoyevsky's epilepsy. Why do you think she tried so hard to label the problem and find a treatment instead of helping her patient decipher her dreams and work through what they mean? At what point did you figure out that Jennifer Narody herself had been bilocating?
7. When the Memorial of Fray Alonso deBenavides manuscript is stolen from Madrid's National Library, did you think it was a coincidence that Dr. Meyers had just called the library director, or did you think she was somehow tied to the disappearance? Why did she feel it was her place to call? Were you wondering at all if she was the mysterious woman with the red shoes?
8. Did you find reporter Carlos Albert's obsession with the truth unsettling or provocative? Why do you think Mysteries was willing to foot the international bill to unveil the story of the missing ancient document? What made each interviewee trust Albert so? And, were you surprised to read in the post scriptum that this character is loosely based on the author? Why or why not?
9. Why did Father Tejada spend so many years on the beatification of Sister Maria Jesus de Ágreda? When did you figure out that he was one of the four saints? How? Did you believe Tejada's story of how the Spanish nun's mystical powers were discovered and how she bilocated more than five hundred times? Is there any other explanation? And, why would her story (and the stories of others like her) be left out of almost every history textbook?
10. Early in the novel, Carlos Albert finds a chain with a pendant in Madrid. Later we find out the image matches the St. Veronica sculpture that some people (possibly terrorists) attempt to blow up. What did you think the significance of the pendant was going to be? Discuss the significance of the imprint of Veronica found on the Holy Shroud of Turin as well as the cloak worn by the Indian Juan Diego in 1531 neither made by human hand (page 307).
11. When Baldi is kidnapped, did you fear for his safety? Were you surprised to find out who kidnapped him and why?
12. Now that Corso is gone, the angels' hope lies in Carlos Albert. Once he interviews Jennifer Narody, reads Benavides's Memorial, and pulls all the information together, Albert realizes all the connections and synchronicities, and trusts even more in the Programmer. How do you think the story would continue after the ending Sierra provides? Would Albert share his discovery in the pages of Mysteries or in some other way? Or would the theory be silenced by the Pope or others? If so, why?
Tips to Enhance Your Book Group
Use food to set the mood! For example, make the theme of your session "blue." Serve blue corn chips and salsa, blueberries, and blue margaritas. Or look at sites like www.vivanewmexico.com, www.initaly.com, or www.gospain.org, for ideas on authentic fare of the different regions in the novel.
Have some of your members do some extra research before the meeting on topics such as the Jumanos of New Mexico, the Roman sculpture of St. Veronica, or Robert Monroe (e.g. on www.wikipedia.com). Maybe even bring photos to help your members visualize what you're describing.
Play the Hallelujah Mass choral music that helped María Jesús de Ágreda bilocate as your members enter or play some music central to the areas Sierra includes in his novel to help set the scene.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Javier Sierra gets credit for providing a unique explanation for apparitions of the Virgin Mary over the centuries, but his writing fails to sparkle. He keeps the narrative lively by shifting between centuries and locations, perhaps too much. I found the multiple story lines confusing - is it a surprise in a novel that includes Vatican coverups, 17th-century New Mexico missions, bilocating nuns, a secret U.S. government project, the Spanish Inquisition, and half-human angels? In addition, the book is extremely talky, with endless dialogues on every concept. To be honest, by the end of the book, I still had no idea who the good guys were.
Not as good as the his 'secret supper' but an engaging read nonetheless. Its a clever plot, well written and I do enjoy the use of stories set in different times that gradually converge - the technique is used well in this novel.
There are several different storylines that intersect--all centered around the mysterious ability of a nun from the 17th century to bi-locate (seemingly be in two places at once). She lived in spain but appeared to the indians on New Mexico. Parts of the novel flash back to these historical events, but parts also take place in the present as several individuals are searching for the truth behind this ability. Along the way they seem to be guided or aided by supernatural forces.I had trouble following parts of this, and I found the premise so far fetched that I had trouble enjoying the story. If you enjoy a lot of mysticism in your stories you might like it.
La Dama Azúl by Javier Sierra - Spanish Edition This book is based on the life of the nun María de Jesús de Ágreda who lived from 1602 to 1665. She appeared more than 500 times to the Jumano Indians of New Mexico and converted them to Christianity - without ever leaving her monastery in Spain. The Inquisition suspected her of witchcraft, after Fray Alonso de Benavides interviewed her and published his famous memorial in 1630. The book opens in 1991. Father Giuseppe Baldi, one of the four Apostles (Luke) who is in charge of a secret study from The Vatican that deals with the study of Bilocation, an alleged psychic or miraculous ability wherein an individual or object is located (or appears to be located) in two distinct places at the same time. Father Baldi believes that music is able to alter the brain frequencies to stimulate the centers of perception that allows a person to travel through time. He is working in close proximity with three other apostles - Matthew (Father Luis Corso who is assassinated/commits suicide), John (Cardinal Sebastián Zsidiv a Polish high rank member of the curia), and Mark (Father Amadeo María de Tejada who is trying to get the nun, María de Jesús de Ágreda, beatified). Immediately it turns back to 1629, and the author narrates the firs apparition of the Lady in Blue to Sakmo, son of the Indian chief of The Jumano Indians, a prominent indigenous tribe who inhabited a large area of western Texas, adjacent New Mexico. Then we travel back to the present (1991) where Jennifer Norady is being psychoanalyzed by Dr. Linda Myers because Jennifer is having dreams of the Blue Lady. Jennifer had volunteered to a secret CIA experiment where they were trying to bilocate Americans to be able to spy on the Soviets. She had to end the study because of her health. Finally, we meet Carlos Albert, a newsman who has recently lost his faith and, by chance, is led to the convent of Ágreda as he was following a lead on the Shroud of Turín. It is up to Albert, as the work travels through the ages, and the historic facts are revealed, to make sense of Father Corso's death, to locate the stolen document written by Benavides explaining how bilocation occurs, and to bring and end to the nightmares of Jennifer Narody by discovering the mystery that The Catholic Church and The US Department of Defense are trying to keep secret, but a group of "angels" are trying to make public. The book is narrated in the third person point of view. It covers many historical facts that the author ingeniously intertwines together to create a novel that reads easily and is very enjoyable. Whether you believe in angels, God, or the Catholic Church will become irrelevant, because you can't wait to figure out what will happen next...
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The book was fairly interesting, but not as good as his other book "The Secret Supper". This book is for people who believe in Remote Viewing and out of body travel and don't mind it applied to religion. I found it on the Bargain Bin and was glad that I didn't pay full price.
I just didn't care for this. I usually finish a book once I have started it, but this one just wasn't worth the effort!
Perhaps the author thought it would be a good idea to shroud the story in murky mist and time-shifts, but it doesn't work. Is this an expose book that the visions of the Virgin have a science explanation, or is this just a half-way thought out story that made it into book form? I agree with the other reviewer who said it was confusing.
I actually thought this was an excellent book. I actually believe in the ability to transport. I'd give it 3 1/2 stars, but it's not available, so 4 it is!