"The citizens of a nation, if educated, have a duty to help those less fortunate rise above their lot."

Rodrigues brings her skills as a scholar and historian plus her imaginative skills as a fiction writer to bear in this debut novel of love and revolutionary ideals in the Age of Enlightenment. The tale unfolds in the alternating points of view of Eleonora Fonseca Pimentel (a Portuguese aristocrat) and Joseph Correia da Serra—a priest, botanist, and diplomat. These narratives are interspersed with chapters detailing Joseph's conversations with his friend Thomas Jefferson. Further details of Joseph's and Eleonora's parallel and yet divergent lives are revealed through an imaginary memoir handwritten by Eleonora in prison that Jefferson gifts to Joseph.

Although lovers in their youth, the lives of Eleanora and Joseph soon diverge as Eleanora devotes her life to revolutionary reform and the establishment of the Neapolitan Republic, based on her ideals of the French Revolution. Joseph finds his way as a Catholic priest, working to create reform within existing systems and institutions. It becomes clear later in his life that both Joseph and Jefferson hold similar secrets about their love lives that contradict their public positions' values. Yet, they escape deadly consequences for their actions. Meanwhile, Eleonora is hounded and jailed for her progressive views that threaten the Neapolitan monarchy.

The complex, contradictory characterizations and historical details of the Enlightenment era are skillfully handled and clarified in straightforward but descriptive prose that will satisfy both academic and non-academic readers. The fictionalized portions of the tale are well-integrated in a seamless narrative that brings greater vitality and a deeper understanding of the life and times of the many historical figures who play roles in this heady but tragic drama. The most interesting player of all is Eleonora, a "martyr of liberty" whose illustrious life ends tragically at the gallows in 1799 with some of her fellow revolutionaries in Naples.

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