Nearly five centuries after she helped Hernan Cortes conquer the Aztec Empire, Malinche is still a controversial figure in Mexican history.
A noble-born child sold into slavery by her mother, she used her unusual ability as a linguist to enable the Spanish to negotiate alliances with the native tribes against the Aztec Emperor Montezuma. As a result, she's reviled as a traitor to her people and, because she was Cortes' mistress and bore him a son, regarded as the symbolic mother of the Mexican people.
In "Malinche," Laura Esquivel, known best for her 1992 best seller "Like Water for Chocolate," reimagines her in this latter role, as a deeply devout woman caught in a clash of civilizations and attempting to make sense of what she experiences.
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