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Book/Author Spotlight – Giveaway: Flower from Castile Trilogy. Ends May 17th

The Alhambra Decree

Flower from Castile Trilogy – Book One: The Alhambra Decree by Lilian Gafni

About the Book: A young woman learns a secret about her past while Columbus plots to explore the world in this historical novel set during the Spanish Inquisition. Isabella, a young noblewoman in Castile, is soon to marry her love when she is kidnapped and thrust into the world of persecuted Jews. She learns that her parents weren’t really the Catholic nobles who raised her. Her captors hide her in the harem of a Moorish king. Meanwhile, a young rebel called Miguel Costa fights for religious freedom, and Christopher Columbus plots to convince Queen Isabella, who is focused on ridding her domain of Moors, to support his worldly explorations. Gafni’s understanding of the time period seems paramount, and her plot is solid. Isabella’s movement between different cultures allows readers to explore what it was like to be a Catholic, Jew or Moor during one of history’s darkest periods.

Rating: 4.1 out of 5 stars with 51 reviews
Pages: 400 pages
Publisher: Lifeline Publishing Books
Published: November 9, 2011
Age: Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction (Spain, War, Inquisition, Love, Family)



About the Author: Lilian Gafni was born in Cairo, Egypt and attended the all-girls, non-denominational, French Catholic School of St. Vincent de Paul. While growing up, Lilian spoke Ladino (a mixture of Castilian Spanish and Hebrew words), a language spoken by Spanish Jews after their expulsion from Spain in 1492.

Gafni writes with passion about the traumas of displaced Jewish populations because she once was attacked because of her religion. Her family fled to the newly formed country of Israel, where she had to adapt to a new life, country and language. Gafni seeks to give voice to the thousands of victims who have been brutally silenced through the ages due to their religion and personal history.

Book Secrets

I am of Sephardic descent. That means my ancestors were Spanish Jews who left Spain to live around the Mediterranean during the infamous 1492 expulsion. I grew up speaking Ladino (a mixture of Castilian Spanish and Hebrew words) in my home. The subject of Jews being forced to leave Spain under duress always intrigued me. Why did these law-abiding Spaniard Jews had to leave a land that was their home for over a thousand years?

The more I learned about the Sephardim, the more I felt close to those exiles of long ago. What thoughts, fears, and hope did they feel and experience? How did they preserve their Jewish heritage in secret? How did they escape the Inquisition-or fall into its clutches?

As I put these thoughts on paper, a whole world opened up before me. The characters, the families and the individuals directly responsible for that exodus became real and spoke in their own voices. Then the characters opened a door for me to peer inside and discover their world.

The major character, Isabella Obrigon, a sixteen-year-old girl with a privileged life leads the story and connects all the players. I thought of how Isabella would look when it dawned on me: if her eyes saw the story, then her eyes were speaking to me. Her eyes had to be demanding, cajoling, supplicating–always leaving a deep impression. That’s when I realized I was describing my mother’s eyes! My mother, Rachel Palombo, was a most beautiful woman with emerald green eyes. She was reputed to have been more beautiful than Hedy Lamar or Elizabeth Taylor. I decided then that Isabella’s eyes were going to be modeled on Rachel Palombo’s eyes. The other characters were modeled on real men and women who lived in that time period. Only their names were changed. These characters were fluid, changing with the circumstances of those terrible times.

The story took on a life of its own as it developed. The characters spoke to me. Some of them pleaded for their lives, some of them risked their lives to protect others, and some fell in love under the most inauspicious of circumstances. In the end, these characters fought for their land, their livelihoods, and the futures of their families.

Two hundred thousand Spanish Jews made the fateful decision to leave Spain in 1492. Many others converted rather than face the unknown in other lands. Today, 50% of Spaniards and Portuguese have the DNA Jewish marker that proves they have Sephardic Jewish ancestors.



Giveaway Rules


There will be 1 winner.

This Giveaway is Open to the USA Only!

Winner will be selected by

Giveaway Ends May 17th, 2014

Comments like these would be deleted – Great contest, please enter me, Love to win this! This is so cute!

Mandatory: Leave a comment about the review below. Leaving a helpful comment relating to this book would be appreciated and valid to the giveaway.

Please HELP promote this book on your blog, twitter, pinterest or facebook. Thanks.

Giveaway Guidelines and Disclaimer  

Winners are selected via Random and notified by email. You have 48 hours to respond;

If no response, the prize is forfeited and an alternate winner is chosen.

This Giveaway Has Ended

Winner is #2 mom2mandj


April 23, 2014 - Posted by | Author and Book Spotlight | , , , ,


  1. I enjoy reading historical fiction. I didn’t know the origins of the Sephardic Jews – this sounds like an intriguing story.

    Comment by tmy56 | April 23, 2014 | Reply

  2. I suspect my ancestors were b’nai anousim. My mother’s family came from Spain, and I’ve always been attracted to the Jewish religion (I converted). I’ve been trying to trace her family back with little luck, but there are rumors in the family that we were Jewish once.

    Comment by mom2mandj | April 23, 2014 | Reply

  3. This sounds like an exciting read. The history aspect alone is interesting.

    Comment by Kristy | April 24, 2014 | Reply

    • Thank you Kristy. History is really the lives of our ancestors who fought for a better life for us.

      Comment by Lilian Gafni (@LilianGafni) | April 30, 2014 | Reply

  4. From what I remember my father’s family also “escaped” from Spain but ended up in Germany. I really would like to read more about this particular time period.

    Comment by Michele | April 24, 2014 | Reply

    • Hi Michelle,

      Ashkenazim, is an 1839 Hebrew term from medieval, rabbinical name for Germany. Many German Jews migrated from Spain and the Mediterranean countries to Eastern Europe to find a better life

      Comment by Lilian Gafni (@LilianGafni) | April 30, 2014 | Reply

  5. Sounds like quite an historical read, I think I would enjoy this one.

    Comment by sharon martin | April 24, 2014 | Reply

  6. Ohhh, a trilogy, I love those! Thanks for sharing this book. I will have to check it out.

    Comment by BlogWithMom (@BlogWithMom) | April 24, 2014 | Reply

  7. I love reading anything that involves history. Even if it’s fiction. Most likely, even the fiction have a little truth to them 🙂

    Comment by Lexie Lane | April 25, 2014 | Reply

    • Thank you Lexie for your comment. Most historical fiction is based in truth. Without those facts there’s no story.

      Comment by Lilian Gafni (@LilianGafni) | April 30, 2014 | Reply

  8. I am a huge fan of historical fiction, and anything with a mystery instantly draws me in. This sounds like an entertaining novel and beginning to a series. I really enjoy reading series’ because I like the continuation of story lines, especially when I grow to love the characters and want more about them! This seems like just the type of book to do that!

    Comment by Amy H | April 25, 2014 | Reply

    • Thank you Amy for your comment. I, too, grew up and loved reading series like the Nancy Drew, and Anne of Green Gables. Later on I graduated to Sherlock Holmes and many other mysteries and historical books such as the knights of the Round Table and Ivanhoe.

      Comment by Lilian Gafni (@LilianGafni) | April 30, 2014 | Reply

  9. The description of the character’s interesting

    Comment by bn100 | April 26, 2014 | Reply

  10. Thank you Ella! I can’t wait to see who wins a copy 🙂

    Comment by Kate Tilton (Froze8) | April 28, 2014 | Reply

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