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 Agreda, 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.
Destiny propels an agnostic journalist to rediscover his faith in this intriguing paranormal puzzler about a mysterious bilocating "lady in blue" from bestseller Sierra (The Secret Supper). In 1629, Sister Mar�a Jes�s de Agreda 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.) In 1991, Spanish journalist Carlos Albert interviews Giuseppe Baldi, a Benedictine priest and musicologist about his 1972 Chronovision machine reported to recapture sounds as well as images from the past. (The Vatican censured Baldi.) Albert later stumbles on Agreda's monastery in Spain, while in Los Angeles, Jennifer Narody, a former U.S. intelligence agent working on a secret project for the Vatican, deals with unusual dreams and receives a startling stolen religious text. Sierra's heady tale about a true flying nun should entertain Christian paranormal buffs, though some readers might have welcomed more about that Chronovision time machine. (June) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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June 18, 2007
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Excerpt from The Lady in Blue by Javier Sierra
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.