Josefina's Sin

A Novel

Josefina's Sin

A thrilling and passionate debut about a sheltered landowner’s wife whose life is turned upside down when she visits the royal court in seventeenth-century Mexico.

When Josefina accepts an invitation from the Marquessa to come stay and socialize with the intellectual and cultural elite in her royal court, she is overwhelmed by the Court’s complicated world. She finds herself having to fight off aggressive advances from the Marquessa’s husband, but is ultimately unable to stay true to her marriage vows when she becomes involved in a secret affair with the local bishop that leaves her pregnant.

Amidst this drama, Josefina finds herself unexpectedly drawn to the intellectual nuns who study and write poetry at the risk of persecution by the Spanish Inquisition that is overtaking Mexico. One nun in particular, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, teaches Josefina about poetry, writing, critical thinking, the nature and consequences of love, and the threats of the Holy Office. She is Josefina’s mentor and lynchpin for her tumultuous passage from grounded wife and mother to woman of this treacherous, confusing, and ultimately physically and intellectually fulfilling world.
  • Atria Books | 
  • 352 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451610673 | 
  • August 2011
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Josefina's Sin includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Claudia H. Long. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


 Josefina, a sheltered landowner’s wife living a quiet life in 17th century Mexico, receives an invitation from the Marquesa to act as a lady-in-waiting in the elite royal court. She is reluctant to leave her family, but the desire to move beyond her small sphere and expose herself to the intellectual and cultural pursuits she has always longed cannot be denied. Accompanied by the beautiful, cunning Angelica, Josefina finds herself stepping into a complicated world of political and personal rivalries and deceptive, licentious behavior.

Unexpectedly, Josefina finds kinship in the nuns who study the arts at the court, writing literature and poetry at the risk of persecution by the Spanish Inquisition. Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz opens Josefina’s eyes to the evocative power of words and through them, the nature and consequences of love, and the dangerous threat of the Holy Office. Josefina begins a tumultuous journey, from a secure wife and loving mother, to a woman seeking to understand her desires a see more

About the Author

Claudia H. Long
Photograph by Patrick Maus.

Claudia H. Long

Claudia H. Long is a practicing attorney in Northern California. She wrote her senior thesis at Harvard University on the feminism of Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz and revived her passion for Sor Juana when she wrote Josefina's Sin. She is the mother of two children, and lives with her husband.