The Hacienda: A Memoir


From a prize-winning British author comes a lush, absorbing memoir—an "Out of Africa" set in the Venezuelan Andes. Tremendously atmospheric, "The Hacienda" brilliantly evokes the unique confluence of time, place, and people that shaped this powerful writer.

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From a prize-winning British author comes a lush, absorbing memoir—an "Out of Africa" set in the Venezuelan Andes. Tremendously atmospheric, "The Hacienda" brilliantly evokes the unique confluence of time, place, and people that shaped this powerful writer.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Prize-winning British novelist St. Aubin de Terán reminisces about her marriage to Don Jaime de Terán. After her wedding to the Venezuelan aristocrat, which took place in the late 1960s when she was just 16 and he was 20 years older, the author drifted around Europe with him for two years before they returned to La Hacienda, her husband's sugarcane and avocado plantation in the Andes wilderness. Although she details how she came to terms with her husband's obvious madness and managed to make a life for herself despite the impoverished condition of the plantation, there are so many gaps in the narrative that it is frequently difficult to follow. Shortly after their arrival home, the author's husband deserted her, but she managed to restore the plantation and deliver rudimentary health care to the workers there. When her husband returned, his episodes of madness became dangerous, and in 1979 the author escaped to England with their daughter, Iseult, who had been born in the Andes in 1973.
Vivian Gornick
The descriptions are marvelous....[They] are the strength of the book. Clear, simple, direct, they endow the prose with texture and character....This memoir comes, finally, neither to poetry, anthropology, or self-definition. It is merely an old-fashioned tale of pluck—told entirely in the terms of external adventure. And I found it thoroughly enjoyable. What it does deliver on is the old-fashioned pleasure of narrative....
The Women's Review of Books
The New York Times
A haunting—and often harrowing—memoir about the seven years she spent on a sugar plantation deep in the Venezuelan Andes.
Michael Upchurch
A wryly absurdist nonchalance now colors St. Aubin de Terán's prose, along with a more buoyant lyrical flair. In The Hacienda, both are on seductive display....a transfixing performance.
New York Times Book Review
Kirkus Reviews
The mesmerizing tale of a young Englishwoman's strange life in the world of a remote South American sugar plantation during the early 1970s. When St. Aubin de Terán was a mere schoolgirl of 16, she met a political exile from Venezuela, Jaime de Terán, a man in his late 30s. He pursued her doggedly and, she agreed to marry him when she was 17. They spent the next three years traveling around Europe with some of his fellow exiles (but without much money). Jaime was an odd character, given to extended bouts of strange behavior, but the ever-flexible teenager made nothing of it. When an amnesty made it possible for him to return home to the family estate—a sugar cane plantation the Andes—he and his child-bride moved there. St. Aubin de Terán tells of her years (1971-79) on the feudal Terán estate with a small and vulnerable daughter, a fiercely loyal pet buzzard, and a homicidally insane husband. He is the last scion of an ancient (and inbred) aristocratic clan. Managment of the estate fell largely on her inexperienced shoulders. The many families who live in near-servitude on the plantation are impoverished and suffer from terrible diseases in addition to all manner of self-inflicted misfortune. Indeed, the author has enough misfortunes of her own, but they don't get the better of her. This remarkable book is striking for its cannily articulate, vivid, yet always understated prose style. It grips the reader from beginning to end. St. Aubin de Terán writes with the dispassionate eye of a cultural anthropologist and the story-telling craftsmanship of the novelist she is (Nocturne, 1993, etc.). One only wishes for more photos than the 19 shesupplies. There is no picture of the buzzard, for example, one of the tale's most interesting figures. A memoir of conspicuously powerful narrative force, never sentimental or self-indulgent.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316816885
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 4/12/2006
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 1,409,242
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 1.00 (d)

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