White Rose: Una Rosa Blanca


Replete with romance and daring intrigue, White Rose: Una Rosa Blanca is the story of ninteen-year-old Evangelina Cisneros, a beautiful and brave young woman with ties to Cuban revolutionaries, and Karl Decker, the Hearst newspaper reporter sent to rescue her from a Havana jail.

Evangelina, along with her father, is active in the struggle to oust the Spanish from Cuba during the 1890s. When her father is arrested, she pleads her case to a Spanish general who falls in love with ...

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White Rose: A Novel

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Replete with romance and daring intrigue, White Rose: Una Rosa Blanca is the story of ninteen-year-old Evangelina Cisneros, a beautiful and brave young woman with ties to Cuban revolutionaries, and Karl Decker, the Hearst newspaper reporter sent to rescue her from a Havana jail.

Evangelina, along with her father, is active in the struggle to oust the Spanish from Cuba during the 1890s. When her father is arrested, she pleads her case to a Spanish general who falls in love with her. She spurns his advances and is herself thrown in jail for her revolutionary activities. Reports of her imprisonment reach the New York papers, and Evangelina Cisneros captures the hearts of American society women, who make her a cause celebre.

William Randolf Hearst, recognizing an opportunity to further encourage America's involvement in the Cuban-Spanish conflict, sends his star journalist, Karl Decker, to Havana on the pretense of interviewing Evangelina, when in fact he is on a mission to effect her escape. In action that moves from Washington, D.C., to New York to Havan, White Rose opens up a world of suspense and passion, as the married Karl finds himself dangerously drawn to the subject of his stories—as she is to him. But they must inevitably face karl's wife Katherine, and the decision that will affect all their lives.

Based on a true story, White Rose is part love story and part spy thriller. Set in both the exotic, primitive world of Cuba and the high-society milieu of Washington and Manahattan in 1897, here is a story that will inspire the imagination and capture the heart.

About the Author:

Amy Ephron is a novelist and screenwriter. Her most recent novel was A Cup of Tea. She lives in Los Angeles with her three children.

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Editorial Reviews

NY Times Book Review
Her voice has a real and unusual power.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The latest effort from novelist (A Cup of Tea) and screenwriter Ephron is based on the true story of Evangelina Cisneros, who escaped imprisonment in Cuba with the aid of American journalist Charles Duval (aka Karl Decker) during the 1890s, just before the Spanish-American War. The determined, pretty 19-year-old chose to accompany her father to the Isle of Pines after he was arrested by the Spanish government on political charges. When her father escaped, Evangelina was left to face 20 years in Ceuta, an African penal colony no prisoner had ever survived. William Randolph Hearst sent Decker, his top reporter, to rescue Evangelina; like a modern heroine, she rescued him right back, helping him to make it safely off the island and following him to the U.S., where she met with President McKinley. The attraction between Karl and Evangelina may or may not have roots in fact, but as Ephron tells it, Karl gives scant consideration to his wife and child at home in Washington, D.C. This is an intriguing story and an important one, with special appeal for political and feminist audiences, but Ephron fails to bring it fully to life. Her decision to rely on Evangelina's own words for some of the dialogue ensures the proper historic tone and surely posed an interesting challenge for the writer, but the results are sometimes stilted, though Ephron's own prose is supple. The novel is fleshed out with a good deal of Cuban history and a look at early American cultural imperialism. But it is developed in too sketchy a fashion to involve the reader's emotions; this is all the more disappointing since the subject matter is so promising. (Sept.) FYI: Ephron is writing the screenplay and will be executive producer for a film based on this book that has been optioned by Warner Brothers. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
It is not surprising that famed newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst would want a reporter to interview imprisoned Cuban revolutionary Evangelina Cisneros: she is young, beautiful, and a woman. But Hearst, whose paper's motto is "While others talk, the Journal acts," has further plans for resourceful and intrepid newspaperman Karl Decker. Karl is not only to talk with Evangelina but to rescue her from prison and smuggle her out of Cuba to the United States, where she is expected to persuade President McKinley and Congress to send troops to Cuba in support of the rebels. The secrecy, danger, total reliance on one another, and heady atmosphere of a Caribbean island in revolt force Karl and Evangelina into an intimate relationship they could not foresee, making them question their ideals. Reading this novel, with its compact prose, is like watching the movie that director Luc Besson plans to make of it. From the author of A Cup of Tea; recommended for readers who like their historical fiction short and vivid. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/99.]--Cynthia Johnson, Cary Memorial Lib., Lexington, MA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Another historical romp from novelist/screenwriter Ephron (A Cup of Tea, 1997, etc.), who this time takes us south of the border and over the waves to Cuba on the eve of the Spanish-American War. By the end of the 19th century, the Spanish Empire had pretty much folded up its tent for good, at least in the Americas. Cuba was the only colony of any significance left, and even there the move for independence (under José Martí) was growing stronger every day; soon a military government was established, and rebels were hunted down assiduously and either deported or killed outright. Among the rebellious was Augustin Cisneros, a plantation foreman who had become a staunch patriot. Arrested for activities on behalf of the independence movement, Cisneros was sentenced to death by firing squad. His teenaged daughter Evangelina was able to intervene on his behalf, however, and the sentence was commuted to imprisonment on the Isle of Pines, one of the infamous concentration camps set up by the Spaniards to contain the rebellion. Evangelina is allowed to accompany her father to the Isle of Pines, and there the camp commandant falls in love with her. To resist his advances, Evangelina stabs him and is arrested as a rebel in her own right. When she's sent to the African penal colony of Ceuta, Evangelina's case became a cause célèbre, inflaming world opinion against Spain. Enter Karl Decker. A reporter for Hearst's New York Journal, Decker is sent to Cuba to rescue Evangelina from prison. Using his press credentials to gain access, he pretends to interview Evangelina while laying the plan for her escape. Along the way, the two fall in love, and once Evangelina is out ofharm's way in New York, Decker has to find a way to pull off his own escape—from his wife Katherine. But some prisons are more easily sprung than others. A vivid embellishment of a true account, Ephron's story is quick and lively enough to outrun the tedium that's the bane of historical romances.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345441102
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/28/2000
  • Series: Ballantine Reader's Circle
  • Pages: 271
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

Amy Ephron

Amy Ephron is the bestselling author of the acclaimed novels One Sunday Morning and A Cup of Tea. Her magazine pieces and essays have appeared in Vogue; Saveur; House Beautiful; the National Lampoon; the Los Angeles Times; the Huffington Post; Defamer; her own online magazine, One for the Table; and various other print and online publications. She recently directed a short film, Chloe@3AM, which was featured at the American Cinematheque’s Focus on Female Directors Short Film Showcase in January 2011. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Alan Rader, and any of their five children who happen to drop in.


Amy Ephron was born in Beverly Hills, CA to parents Henry and Phoebe Ephron, both East Coast born and raised screenwriters. She is the sister of Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron and Hallie Ephron. Amy Ephron is the author of several novels. Her national bestseller, A Cup of Tea, spent 37 weeks on the LA Times bestsellers list and has been bought by film producer Jerry Bruckheimer. A Cup of Tea won Ephron the 2005 Southern California Booksellers Association award for fiction, received the Booklist Best Fiction of the Year 2005 award and was a Barnes and Noble Book Club selection.

Ephron is a frequent contributor to Harper's Bazaar, Vogue, ELLE, LA Times, Saveur, National Lampoon, The Realist, LA Weekly, LA Style, and The Huffington Post.

As a film executive she worked on A Little Princess, Born on the Fourth of July and Out of Africa. She also runs her own food website called One for the Table, which publishes articles and recipes about food, love, and politics.

Amy has been married twice, first to film producer Sasha Harari, with whom she has three children, Anna, Maia and Ethan, and currently to lawyer Alan Rader.

Good To Know

Some fun and fascinating anecdotes from our interview with Ephron:

"My first job was in the P.R. Department at the New York City Parks Department. I was 16. I was the complaint lady. That summer there was a caterpillar infestation. I received 120 complaints a day from irate mothers about the caterpillars in the parks and playgrounds. They were fairly harmless and there wasn't anything to do about them (except spray, which someone sensibly decided wasn't a good idea). Once, they let me name an animal that had been born in the Central Park Zoo, a baby doe. I named it Sparkle."

"If I have a hobby at all, it's gardening, although I'm better at directing someone where to plant something than doing it myself. I do get out there and prune and cut. I love to go to nurseries and have a bad habit of buying plants online. Our garden's a funny mixture of English garden, roses and lavender, and cacti and California indigenous plants. And, always, recovering from one disaster or another as we have a lot of deer (and no fences) and gophers -- and I don't believe in insecticide."

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    1. Hometown:
      Los Angeles, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 21, 1952
    2. Place of Birth:
      Beverly Hills, California

Read an Excerpt

She was seated at a table in the center of the prison yard, in a straight-backed chair, the legs of which were slightly uneven and wobbled uncertainly against the coarse and rocky soil. The table was roughly carved so that if she was not careful where she placed her hands, she would come away with splinters.

She sat perfectly erect, barely moving, holding her head high, chin slightly down, breathing, in small measured breaths because the acrid smell of female urine, intensified by the sun which beat down relentlessly in the open patio of the Recojidas, was not one you could ever get accustomed to.

She longed for the slight shelter of a palm tree) to walk barefoot in tile sand, to let her feet be cooled by the crystal blue water as the soft waves crashed lightly into shore. She wanted to breathe the moist tropical air, lightly scented with flowers, the air of her childhood, that she knew still existed a few blocks away.

She was dressed in a high-necked, concealing, long-sleeved dress that did little, however, to hide her lithe form, incongruously, as if it were a few years ago, and she was on her way to tea at the big house on the plantation. They had brought her the dress that morning, freshly ironed, so that she would appear to the public to be better treated than she was. The dress still smelled faintly of the carnation water she used to sprinkle on so liberally. She wondered what they had done with the rest of her things - if one of the guards' wives wore her black lace shawl at night and someone else was reading her Bible and playing with the beads of her rosary.

She had dressed carefully and pinned her hair up, squeezing her cheeks to try to put some color in them. It suited her to go along with them) to present an image of respectability.

It pleased her that they were a little afraid of her and afforded her certain liberties that they did not allow the other prisoners-that they would still let her have some discourse with the outside world.

There was a composure about her, a peacefulness, way beyond her years and certainly curious in her present circumstances. She was still young enough not to be frightened of anything, despite what she had been through.

She was staring straight ahead, her eyes intently fastened on the entrance gate. She wanted to see him when he first came in, this journalist who was coming to see her, who had been sent by Mr. Hearst to interview her.

She was aware of everything around her -- she had been trained to this, long before she was imprisoned. The cluster of black women in the corner passing a lone cigarette between them, their torn dresses draped about them with little attempt to conceal their bodies, as they stood hunched defiantly against the thick walls that towered high in the air, well within the sights of the lone guard, posted atop the parapet, armed with a Spanish rifle.

They had seemed to her, at first, so fierce, these black women, as though they, too, were an enemy faction, something else to be feared. But that was before they had earned each others' respect. Anna, the oldest of the prisoners, standing off to the side alone, nervously shifting her weight from one foot to the other, as if she were a child, her gray hair hanging scraggly about her face, her pale blue eyes almost as translucent as her skin. For murdering her husband, she had been sentenced to life, a life that would no doubt be cut short by her sentence. It was said that in the moment when she took his life, she lost her will to communicate with the outside world. It was Anna that Evangelina understood the most, how violence was the only way that she could think to silence him, how when she neatly slit her husband's throat with a hunting knife, as if in penance, committed herself to a world of silence. The other women, seemingly educated gentle women, who stood apart by their background, there for the same reason that Evangelina was -- because they or their father or their cousin or their husband or their neighbor believed in their country, their right to a free country, more than in anything else. It was that belief, that naive conviction, that gave her what little composure she had.

Would she tell her story again? Yes. She would tell it as many times as she had to. Viva Cuba Libre.

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Reading Group Guide

1. Based on what you know about William Hearst and yellow journalism, do you think Karl Decker and Eugene Bryson embellished their accounts? Do you think Evangelina is not as innocent as they portrayed her and that there's a possibility that she led an uprising at the Isle of Pines?

2. What are your thoughts on newspapermen "making the news?" Are actions like Hearst's ever justified? It has been speculated that the newspaper moguls of this era were working in conjunction with the government. Do you believe that there is truth to this speculation?

3. Between the unique romance, a major historical event, and a good old-fashioned spy story, White Rose has something for nearly everyone. What elements of this novel drew you in the most?

4. This seems like a novel that can be enjoyed by men and women alike. Any thoughts on this?

5. Which characters intrigued you the most? Why?

6. This novel is essentially a love story, a triangle, hence the juxtaposition of the chapters with Katherine Decker in Washington, D. C. What significance did Katherine's perspective contribute to the story?

7. There are plans to adapt White Rose into a movie, and a rumor that Hearst will play a bigger role in the movie version. If you were the casting director, who would you choose to play the parts of Evangelina, Carlos, Karl, and Katherine?

8. Were you able to figure out the clues in the poem that Evangelina wrote for Karl to help him break her out of prison?

9. Ms. Ephron's style is minimalistic. Did you feel the short, cinematic chapters transported you into late nineteenth century Cuba?

10. Do you think today's tabloid journalism is rooted in yellowjournalism?

11. Have you read other novels or nonfiction about this period in Cuban history? If so, did you find consistencies in regard to the events depicted in White Rose?

12. What were your favorite moments in White Rose?

13. Can you think of other historical events and figures--that have not been previously mined--that would make for similarly exciting storytelling?

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