La Quintrala

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By Magdalena Petit
MACMILLAN
La Quintrala — the Scarlet Flower, is a tale of colonial Chile of the seventeenth century. The name was given to Doña Catalina de los Rios, daughter of the Corregidor of Santiago, because of her beauty and her bloodthirsty crimes. She is the Lucrezia Borgia of Latin America. All her life she is torn between the forces of evil and good. Those of evil are symbolized in her Negro attendant, Josefa, who is always at hand, from her birth onwards, to rout, by her sorcery and witchcraft, the forces of good symbolized in the artist-priest, Friar Pedro.
At the age of fourteen Doña Catalina murders her father by poison, and a little later stabs a lover who she thinks has been indiscreet on the subject of her reputation. For this she is indicted for murder. An honest Captain in the army becomes so infatuated by her beauty that he is willing to believe, if not in her innocence, at least in her sincere repentance. The influence of Friar Pedro lasts intermittently until she discovers through Josefa a secret of his youth. Thereafter she seals a pact with the devil.
This lurid story is told with much color and movement and is well written, but the claim on the jacket that it is brought into the focus of modern psychological theory cannot, I think, be sustained. Any
application of that sort has to be supplied by the reader himself. E. D.