Island Beneath the Sea: A Novel

Island Beneath the Sea: A Novel

by Isabel Allende

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Overview

“Allende is a master storyteller at the peak of her powers.”
Los Angeles Times

From the sugar plantations of Saint-Domingue to the lavish parlors of New Orleans at the turn of the 19th century, the latest novel from New York Times bestselling author Isabel Allende (Inés of My Soul, The House of the Spirits, Portrait in Sepia) tells the story of a mulatta woman, a slave and concubine, determined to take control of her own destiny.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062002891
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 04/27/2010
Sold by: HARPERCOLLINS
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 15,771
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Isabel Allende is the author of twelve works of fiction, including the New York Times bestsellers Maya’s Notebook, Island Beneath the Sea, Inés of My Soul, Daughter of Fortune, and a novel that has become a world-renowned classic, The House of the Spirits. Born in Peru and raised in Chile, she lives in California.

Hometown:

San Rafael, California

Date of Birth:

August 2, 1942

Place of Birth:

Lima, Peru

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Island Beneath the Sea 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 261 reviews.
avidtexasreader More than 1 year ago
I've read several of Allende's books and liked them all, but this is one of her best, if not the best. I especially enjoyed the setting in the Carribean and Louisiana, and as always enjoyed getting to know the characters and sympathizing with them. Definitely recommend this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the first novel I read from this author and I found it extremely entertaining. I often had to prevent myself from reading ahead so that I could get to the ending. All the characters were well thought of and developed. Each character had their own personality and were well thought of. The cultural surroundings not only had me feeling I was there, in the story, but the cultural and historical reference also gave each character its foundation and credibility. It is not too often that I find books that have me thinking about them after I have closed the book for the evening or leaving me satisfied with what I have read, wishing there had been much more. This was a love story, a coming of age story, historical story, a thriller and just down-right entertaining. I loved it. It is one that I will include in my library. This is one author that I will now be on the lookout for future releases.
Le_Frou More than 1 year ago
I am a Creole from New Orleans, this book touches me. I love the characters and the way the story is written. I couldn't put it down. Grab a nice glass of wine and enjoy!
RedMtReader More than 1 year ago
I have loved many of Isabel Allende's books, such as "Portrait in Sepia," so was anxious to read "Island Beneath the Sea." While I learned quite a bit about the sad and difficult history of Haiti, the story dragged in parts. The writing wasn't as crisp as in prior books and the characters weren't as compelling or interesting.
cherylanniemay More than 1 year ago
What a beautifully written historical novel. Now I have a much better understanding of the slave revolt that took place in Haiti and how Haiti came to be abandonded by other nations. People such as Tete, who wanted freedom were so hard for the white people to understand. I also liked the face that Isabel Allende (whom I have read extensively and admired) made Tete very realistic. She wanted freedom and was a noble person, but because of love for her children she stayed a slave which was abhorent to her far longer than she had to. Even her slave master, the despicable coward that he was, was still "not as bad" as some slave owners. I would recommend this book to anyone that appreciates historical fiction and loves a good story of humanity and love.
GailCooke More than 1 year ago
For fans of television's popular series Law & Order S. Epatha Merkerson is a familiar name. However, although her six year stay as Lt. Anita Van Buren on that program brought her many accolades, it is only a small part of her resume. Raised in Detroit, Michigan, Merkerson was a dance major at Wayne State University until a friend asked her to come to attend the friend's drama class. It was there that she discovered what she truly wanted to do. So, after graduation she headed for New York City to carve out a career as an actress. It was not too long before her gifts were recognized - she earned a Tony nomination for best actress for her role in The Piano Lesson as well as the Drama Desk Award and the Helen Hayes Award. Television and screen roles followed. Many of us recall not only Merkerson's first-rate performances but her voice - a tad husky yet clear, resonant. Listeners will thoroughly enjoy her reading of Isabel Allende's spellbinding ISLAND BENEATH THE SEA. Set in the French colony that will later become Haiti and using the revolt of 1804 plus several historical figures in her narrative the multi talented author relates the story of Zarite, called Tete. Her life is a mirror in which we see reflected the horrors of slavery, and the brutality of the lives endured by those who worked on the sugar cane plantations. Tete is the mulatto daughter of a mother she never knew and a white sailor. When Toulouse Valmorain arrives in 1770 he intends that his visit will be brief. However, he inherits his father's vast holdings - plantations and hundreds of slaves. He buys Tete as his wife's slave little knowing how their lives will intertwine. Days are perilous during the slave revolt and although Tete hates her master she has borne him two children, so she escapes with him to New Orleans to protect her offspring. It is there in an entirely different world that Tete attempts to create a life for herself. As is her wont Allende has created complex, fascinating characters, unforgettable people whose lives have been caught up in situations not of their own doing. Tete' is a remarkable figure, struggling against almost insurmountable mores and odds. - Gail Cooke
Anonymous 10 months ago
Could+not+resist+reading+this+compelling+story%21+Learned+much+about+the+history+of+Haiti+and+early+New+Orleans.++
gypsysmom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I listened to this book as a download from my library. It is the story of a young slave girl, Zarite, in Haiti who is bought to be a lady's maid to the Cuban wife of a plantation owner. The wife goes steadily mad but does produce one male heir for her husband. Before the time the wife becomes pregnant the husband takes the slave girl (Tete as she is called) to his bed. Tete has a son as well but he is taken away from her by the master. Tete raises Maurice, the legitimate son, and when she also has a daughter she is allowed to keep her because by that time the wife is completely mad. The two children grow up together. While they are still young there are slave uprisings and the master has to flee the island. Tete is instrumental in saving the family and she is promised she will be freed because of this. Eventually they end up in New Orleans. Tete does win her freedom and that of her daughter. However, their lives are still entangled with that of her former master.This book didn't grab me as much as some of Allende's other books have. Perhaps because I felt that the story shared a lot with The Book of Negroes which I really loved. But there is some interesting history here and some really strong women characters.
drausche on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this even though at times the content was a horrific story line. No sugar-coating the reality of life and history.
santhony on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I ordered this novel immediately after having read the author¿s The House of the Spirits. I found this novel to be very similar in style and substance to the aforementioned work, which in this case is a good thing. Whereas the former work was a highly educational look at early 20th century Chile, and the formation of the country¿s first Republic, this novel is set in late 18th century Haiti, Cuba and New Orleans. The novel follows a young female slave named Zarite (Tete), from the unrest and subsequent slave rebellion on Haiti as she follows her master to first Cuba and then New Orleans.Just as in The House of the Spirits, the author alternates between the first person account of Zarite and the more prevalent third person narrative. The prose is beautiful and the story line is educational and instructive.This is an absolutely top class piece of work, both in the quality of the writing and the history and political lesson contained therein. Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in French and Spanish colonization of the Caribbean or the writing of such authors as Gabriel Garcia Marquez, to whose writing Allende compares quite favorably.
TheLostEntwife on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm not unfamiliar with sweeping sagas or stories of slaves - but I am unfamiliar with many of the events that were taking place around the time period of this story. I'm not sure what made me interested in picking it up, but whatever it was.. I'm glad it did.Island Beneath the Sea was the perfect book at the perfect time. I didn't feel like reading something off my bookshelf, or something of the genre's I'm most comfortable in and I wanted something with depth, substance and grit to it and I got that in this book. I found Isabel Allende's writing to be musical and the story flowed in such an easy manner I always felt compelled to pick it back up, but never felt as if it was holding me in its grip either.Tete and the surrounding cast of characters were filled with life, character and easily inspired sympathy. I found myself cheering her on and completely absorbed in her life, which was even further aided by the switching from third-person to Tete's point of view.For historical novel fans, this is a book that is definitely out of the norm for the genre, but one that is just as fascinating, even though it doesn't involve famous names or royalty.
PegSwaney on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
story of slaves in St. Dominica and Haiti. House slave that saved master and son. Free black cortesan also throughout the story.
MarkMeg on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A historical novel about Hait. Very interesting. Well written. Could have been shortened in a few places, but good on a whole.
pamdierickx on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Amazing historical fiction of Haiti and the slave uprising.
lauriebrown54 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
While this novel lacks the magicalness of some of Allende¿s books, it¿s a powerful story about one of the world¿s great abominations: slavery, and it¿s effects on one woman in particular, Zarite called Tete. Toulouse Valmoriain arrives in Saint-Domingue (now Haiti) as a 20 year old with the idea of seeing his ailing father, getting the sugar plantation on it¿s feet again, and then going back to civilized France. But the plantation takes constant attention, so he stays. The child Tete is bought to be his first wife¿s personal slave, which is an easier life for a slave than working in the fields. But Tete is prey to the same dangers as all slaves, of abuse, rape, threats of sale or death. Her life may be easier than some because of her intelligence and her luck in ending up with valued slaves who take her under their wings, but it¿s still a miserable, hard life. She longs for freedom, even though the chances of obtaining it are slim. Many of the whites are almost caricatures in their evilness as slaveholders, especially Valmorain¿s second wife who carries a whip in her hand at all times. But people like her really existed, as did men like Valmorain, who lives with a clear conscience despite raping Tete when she is 11 and taking her first child away from her immediately. To him- and to most of the whites- she is not fully human and thus her feelings need not be taken into account. They are less than animals, because most of those slave owners would have taken care of their horse or dog better than they did these fellow human beings. Thankfully, there are a few exceptions. A few whites exist in this story who feel that slavery is a horrible thing. Allende achieves a good balance of good and evil; while the atmosphere is oppressive, things aren¿t¿ completely bleak for Tete. Through the years of Tete¿s slavery, the story moves from Saint-Domingue and the slave rebellion, to Cuba, to New Orleans, which is sold to the United States during the novel. Allende has done serious research for this book, and it shows. While not my favorite of Allende¿s books- I was enraged by so many of the characters too much of the time- it¿s a good one. It¿s a very memorable novel.
Twink on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Stunning, breathtaking, just an absolutely fantastic read. I started Island Beneath the Sea last night and literally could not put it down. I've just turned the last page and am wondering why have I never read Isabel Allende before!?The novel opens with a prologue in which Zarité expresses her love of dancing."..he invited me to lose myself in the music, the way you do in a dream. Dance, dance, Zarité, the slave who dances is free...while he is dancing, he told me. I have always danced."Zarité or Teté as she comes to be known, was sold as a slave when she was only a few months old. In 1770 she lives on the island of Saint-Domingue. She is sold again to plantation owner Toulouse Valmorain to look after his wife. Life in the French colony is becoming more and more unsettled. By 1793 the island is extremely dangerous - the blacks have rebelled and are massacring the whites. Valmorain, his family and Teté escape to Cuba and then to Louisiana.The brief synopsis I've provided doesn't even begin to touch the rich, sweeping saga Allende has written. The story that Allende has woven is simply mesmerizing. But is is the character of Teté that captured me completely -her strength, fortitude, endurance and spirit. Teté is a resilient woman, facing seemingly unbearable situations with quiet dignity. Her life and that of Valmorain are inextricably intertwined as she bears two of his children - the products of repeated sexual violence, beginning when she was eleven. Despite the violence visited upon her, she has an unflagging love for her children and hope for her own future.But it was the descriptions of the treatment of the slaves that brought tears to my eyes many times. The cavalier and cruel actions by the whites was appalling. Indeed, there were over 60 classifications of mulattoes, based on the amount of white blood.The supporting characters were no less captivating. Tante Rose, the local healer and voodoo leader, the freedom fighters, including Gambo, Teté's lover and Violette,the mulatto courtesan desired by many. Parmentier, the local white doctor who has secrets of his own. Each one of their stories are rich and vibrant as well.The Island Beneath the Sea is historical fiction at its' absolute best. The detail was fascinating. I had no idea of the roots of the island we now know as Haiti, the slavery that started long before it reached America and the long war between Spain and France over this small piece of land. Descriptions of the social lives and customs of this time period were incredibly illustrated. The title? Slaves chose to kill their children and send the to 'the island beneath the sea' rather than have them live as slaves. Allende's ability to weave factual events with fiction is truly spectacular. Highly, highly recommended.
Quiltinfun06 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende is a wonderfully written account of one woman slave and her determination to be free. Beginning in Saint-Dominque, Zarite or Tete as we come to know her, endures. She endures the rape by her owner Valmorian on his plantation on that island. She endures the loss of her child born of that rape. She endures the endless tragedies as she matures and becomes a woman. Her freedom is always in her sight as promised by her owner as she helps him flea the devastation of the island by the Negro slaves who are overthrowing the white government and taking over. In exchange for helping him to safety, a promise is made in writing for her freedom as well as his second mulatto child, Rosette. They flea to New Orleans where Valmorian now establishes himself and his household ¿ all that he owns ¿ including Tete. Tete¿s endless struggles do not weaken her spirit or her determination to become free. I highly recommend this historical fiction novel as one of Allende¿s best. The sweeping saga and journey to freedom is well executed in Allende style. From first page to last, I was hooked onto the skirts of Tete and fought with her to the bitter end.
fiercebunny on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When I pick up an Isabel Allende novel I bring certain expectations with me and even though Island Beneath the Sea met many of them, in some aspects I feel that Allende missed the mark. While still beautiful, this is not my favorite of her novels. Island Beneath the Sea is written in Allende's amazing prose style, which creates vivid images and intense settings, it is as beautiful as Monet's Water Lilies at Giverny, but it is also written in a style which can be frustrating to the reader. Like Monet, Allende's style is unquestionably beautiful, but not for everyone. While reading Island Beneath the Sea, I often found myself enjoying lovely sentences but being frustrated by the repetition of information and felt as if Allende was overly concerned with her reader's understanding exactly what she was describing. It often seemed to me that she either simplified the descriptions or repeated them until her readers couldn't miss the meaning. The story line throughout Island Beneath the Sea is also beautiful and well constructed. Isabel Allende's talents here are obvious, but again it seemed too straightforward and predictable to come to a satisfying conclusion. There is no denying the beauty of this book, but it is not the strongest novel from this wonderful writer. Nonetheless, I have been haunted by the world which Allende describes. This is the perfect time for this novel and the connection to the Haitian history that runs throughout can help connect readers to the current situation in Haiti. Isabel Allende is a compassionate and beautiful writer, she has obviously researched this novel and includes details which lend to the credibility of the story and world. Her craft is unquestionably lovely, but this particular story I found difficult to connect to and frustrating to read. I would recommend many of her other novels including Of Love and Shadows, The House of the Spirits and Zorro, before I would recommend Island Beneath the Sea.
maryqueenofscotts on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love her writing and the way she incorporates history with intricacies of relationships is incredible in this book! Allende is surprising in her stories especially this one on the life of a slave and the relationships she encounters.
Smits on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
great book.prose brings to life history of Haiti, the brutality of slavery . She weaves together real characters with fiction. I learned so much about culture , religion and hostory in New Orleans.
brigitte64 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It a great but brutal book about slavery and the way people deal with it. I learned a lot about Haiti and New Orleans. A little bit long sometimes but a good read.
andreablythe on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Born a slave on the island of Saint-Domingue, Tete is purchased as a young girl by Toulouse Valmorain's as a gift for his new wife and works as a domestic slave within the household. A series of events binds both Valmorain and Tete together, and carries them from war the war torn Saint-Domingue to Cuba and finally to Louisianna. All the while Tete longs and plots for her freedom, taking and holding on tightly to what joys, hope, and passions she can obtain as a slave. The scope of this novel is huge, switching back and forth between third person POV and Tete's own POV. Allende is thorough in her history (however accurate), describing in detail the brutal rebellion of slaves on the sugar plantations of Saint-Domingue and how the island, later known as Haiti, became the first free black country in the Carribean. From there, she weaves her story briefly through the Cuban landscape, where white refugees are forced to flee, and finally land in Louisianna, where she presents a very different world than that of Saint-Domingue.Tete has a subdued quality throughout the book. All her life she has had to suppress her own emotions in the face of her own reality, filled with horrors, so it is no surprise that when she tells her tone seems nearly disinterested almost flat. But she is not a woman without passions, which have lain in the quiet depths of her heart. Her battles have been quiet subterfuges and she has had to face her life with simultaneous complacency and secret resistance. The people who swim around Tete, such as Valmorain and his mad wife or the doctor who often visits to the plantation, are each treated with tenderness and respect. Allende works hard to leave judgment out and to let the reader observe and judge each character on their own terms. Thick with history and folklore, The Island Beneath the Sea is a wonderful read.
Spearvahn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book starts wonderfully. I sent a quote to a friend before I had even reached the second page, but I REALLY felt that the book began to fall apart towards the end. She builds the stories and the characters and the history and then poof. She slings a bunch of people together as if to represent many aspects of history in Louisianna and then ends the book. I was dissatisfied.
kmaziarz on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Zarité, known as Tété, was born into slavery in the colony of Saint-Domingue on the island that is now Haiti. Enslaved Africans and people of mixed race, like Tété, were often worked to death in a matter of months on the brutal sugarcane plantations of Saint-Domingue. Tété, however, was lucky. She was purchased by Toulouse Valmorain to care for his insane wife and their young son, not to work the fields. And all she had to put up with was Valmorain's unwanted sexual attentions. Valmorain, conflicted about slavery, comes to rely deeply on Tété while never quite accepting her as his equal, or even as quite human. When the slave uprising that will eventually give birth to the first free black republic of Haiti breaks out, Tété is instrumental in saving the lives of Valmorain, his legitimate son Maurice, and their illegitimate quadroon daughter Rosette. The family flees first to Cuba, and, later, relocates to the bustling, vibrant city of New Orleans, where Tété seeks freedom for herself and the beautiful, though spoiled, Rosette. Well-researched, detailed, and vivid, Island Beneath the Sea is a far-reaching tale of a way of life that, though ended, still has repercussions today.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed very much.