After decoding a secret hidden in her inherited fortune, hoarded for a hundred years by a mission in Southern California, she sets out for Spain to follow the clues it reveals. The mission that has benefited financially from the fortune looks the other way as savage opportunists seek control of the powerful secret Ramona has discovered. The fast-paced action never abandons the exploration of Ramona’s personal growth into independence as she discovers a past she never knew existed and a forbidden future she must embrace. In the process, she peels away layers of history that reveal the faces of power that can both abuse and redeem. Such strangleholds have pressured cultures, religions, institutions, women, and men throughout history. The decision of whether that stranglehold becomes necessary to correct abuses or is the abuse itself is left to the interpretation of the reader.
The novel builds on Helen Hunt Jackson’s popular nineteenth century novel that fictionalizes a real Cahuilla woman’s tragic story. Ms. Jackson, an activist in her time, became a vocal advocate for the Native Americans, and her sympathies guided the writing of her novel Ramona. She made her main character, Ramona, a cultural hero in Southern California, and that legacy lives on today. In Strangler Figs, Ramona (a popular name given girls in Temecula) is the unacknowledged offspring of the actual Cahuilla woman. As the last living descendant, Ramona discovers that she has inherited the treasure mentioned at the end of the nineteenth century novel, thus making Strangler Figs a mix of fiction and reality.
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