The Island of Eternal Love

( 3 )


A magical new novel "of loss and love across more than a century of Cuba's past."(Chicago Sun-Times)

Alone in a city that haunts her, far from her family, her history, and the island she left behind, Cecelia seeks refuge in a bar in Little Havana where a mysterious old woman's fascinating tale keeps Cecelia returning night after night. Her powerful story of long-vanished epochs weaves the saga of three families from far-flung pieces of the world whose connection forms the kind ...

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The Island of Eternal Love

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A magical new novel "of loss and love across more than a century of Cuba's past."(Chicago Sun-Times)

Alone in a city that haunts her, far from her family, her history, and the island she left behind, Cecelia seeks refuge in a bar in Little Havana where a mysterious old woman's fascinating tale keeps Cecelia returning night after night. Her powerful story of long-vanished epochs weaves the saga of three families from far-flung pieces of the world whose connection forms the kind of family that Cecelia has long been missing-one cast from legendary, unbreakable love. As Cecelia falls under the story's heady sway, she discovers the source of the visions that plague her, and a link to the past she cannot shake.

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Editorial Reviews

Melodious . . . reminiscent of Isabel Allende's The House of the Spirits . . . a dream-like haze hang[s] over the novel from start to finish.
Publishers Weekly

In Chaviano's first English translation, historical fiction is given a strong if awkward shot of the supernatural. Cecilia, a Cuban-born Miami journalist, investigates reports of a "phantom house" that appears in random areas of the city. As she tries to unlock the mystery, she becomes equally entranced by Amalia, an old woman she meets at a Little Havana bar. With only an eccentric great aunt to call family in her adopted city, Cecilia returns again and again to hear Amalia's chronicle of three bloodlines from across the planet that converge in Cuba. Replete with romance, clashing cultures and bloodshed, Amalia's story also has its share of auras, fairy music and imps (including Martinico, who haunts the women in Amalia's family). A descendant of clairvoyants, Cecilia is enthralled by the old woman, but whether readers will be enthralled is another question. Characters are more quirk than flesh, the dialogue is often stilted and though the supernatural plays a large part, the elements frequently feel uncomfortably inserted (such as the cameo of a goat-hoofed Pan). A stronger grounding-either in reality or the supernatural-might have helped this find its groove. (June)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Cecilia, a lonely Cuban American journalist, encounters the elderly Amalia in a bar in Miami's Little Havana. They meet over and over, as Amalia recounts family histories, a melding of the lives of women in three Cuban families, one from Spain, one from Africa, and one from China. Meanwhile, Cecilia investigates a mysterious house that seems to appear and disappear around Havana; she becomes progressively more interested in magic and the gothic as she searches out supposed witnesses of the phantom house. The novel's two threads are peopled with actual Cuban musicians, living and dead. While this is not a fantasy as such, various magical events work to bring the threads together in a rich, satisfying whole. Cuban American writer Chaviano has lived in the United States for nearly 20 years. Her books have been translated into many languages, but this is the first to be translated into English. It's high time, too: this work is an absolute delight, and Chaviano's English-speaking readers will look forward to more translations. A gold medal winner at the 2007 Florida Book Awards; highly recommended for public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ2/1/08.]
—Mary Margaret Benson

Kirkus Reviews
A saga that pays homage to the multistranded ethnicity of Cuba. The Cuban-born author, now a Miami resident, makes her English-language debut with a fragmented novel that moves between contemporary journalist Cecilia, a lonely Cuban refugee living in Miami, and the stories told to her by Amalia, a mysterious figure she meets in a bar. Amalia speaks of an early-20th-century Chinese family immigrating to Cuba; an African slave girl named Caridad; and Angela, a Cuban child visited by a troublesome imp called Martinico, only visible to the female members of her family. Links are forged between these families as the years pass and new generations emerge. Angela's son Jose falls in love with Caridad's daughter Mercedes, a beautiful prostitute possessed by a demon. Their daughter is Amalia, who falls for Pablo Wong, a descendent of the original Chinese immigrants. The couple elopes and eventually has a daughter, Isabel, but their lives are disrupted by political upheaval as the country descends into its "dire fate." Cecilia eventually assuages her sad exiled heart when she meets and falls for Miguel, Amalia's grandson, who tells her that the storyteller she met died a year earlier. Although many popular buttons are touched in this female-centered novel, busy with color, music, whimsy and romance, it remains curiously uninfectious. Agent: Laura Dail/Laura Dail Literary Agency
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594483790
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/2/2009
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 1,102,693
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Daína Chaviano is the award-winning author of several novels published in Spanish. Winner of the acclaimed Azorín Award for Best Novel for El hombre, la hembra y el hambre (Man, Woman and Hunger), her most recent work, The Island of Eternal Love, was the recipient of the 2007 Florida Book Awards’ Gold Medal for Best Spanish Language Book and has been translated into twenty languages around the world. A Havana native, Chaviano has lived in Miami since 1991.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2013

    Intresting and magical

    I am a Cuban/American i migrated with my family in the early dixties and this book has given me a better understanding of my roots great read keeps you engaged on the story

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  • Posted May 23, 2011

    An author we need to keep reading

    This is a CARIBBEAN GOTHIC novel you will love. This love story, ghost story, and historical novel celebrates the diverse roots of Cuban culture and its Miami diaspora. More importantly, this work explores the Chinese presence in Cuba in ways rarely presented before.

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  • Posted May 10, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    fascinating historical fiction

    Born in Cuba, Cecilia left in 1994 settling in Miami's Little Havana; she has since become a reporter. Her friends persuade a hesitant Cecilia to accompany them to a club, which she finds totally boring. She is ready to leave when she meets an elderly woman in the back. Amalia begins telling a fascinated Cecilia re her family heritage.

    Every night Cecilia returns to hear more about how Amalia's three racial-makeups that consolidated into hybrids in Cuba. The old woman adds plenty of romance, violence and blood along with fairies and imps assaulting the females. Especially cursing her relatives for generations is Martinico the imp who has seemingly harassed her and her family forever.

    Using a Sherazade like narrator and fantasy elements also like in the Arabian Nights, Daina Chaviano provides an intriguing creative look at the multicultural roots that merged in Cuba. Thus readers obtain a glimpse at the impact of the Chine and the Spanish and to a lesser degree the African. Fans of historical fiction with a fascinating spin that will require an adjustment will enjoy the deep look at Cuban history and culture.

    Harriet Klausner

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