The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire
The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire is the type of book that serves as a virtual passport allowing the reader to travel from one reality into another. The story is set in Washington, D.C. and Mexico City at a time when America was in the throes of civil war and Mexico was struggling to find its own place in the world under the reign of Archduke Maximilian von Habsburg. It is at this critical place in time that we meet the main character, Alice (later known as Alicia). She is a wistful, optimistic, and adventurous young lady who unwittingly finds herself falling in love with the much older son of a dignitary, Angel, who is known as Angelo. From there, the story becomes more complicated, with twists and turns and philosophies and Mexicanismos and Americanisms.
Mayo’s ability to make language malleable and without borders gives the reader a sense of what it meant to be 'important' in those days when slavery, sexism, racism, and generalized oppression were sanctioned by both church and state. Furthermore, the novel helps us to recognize how much we, as a people, have yet to accomplish concerning these issues.
Mayo’s novel evokes feelings of sadness and concern for the present day reality that has unfolded between the nations of Mexico and America—a sadness, for the loss of generations of writers whose voices were silenced and a concern that the echo of their lives is yet to be discovered. Mayo stands tall, a leader in the world of literature. My hope is that, through her writing, she is providing the spark that will propel new voices to be recognized and applauded. The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire is a verdant, thoughtful, and intellectual while also being savage, carnal, and raw. The thoughtful reader who appreciates a well written tome will enjoy this book again and again.