This tale, set amid the Castro revolution in Cuba, is one of adventure and intrigue, of armed struggle and forbidden love, as the Batista dictatorship is overthrown. It also is a story of conscience and idealism succumbing to reality and disillusionment. Father Pedro Villanueva, 34, son of an upper-middle class Havana family, is initially non-political, and more at ease sailing at the elite Havana Yacht Club than performing his priestly duties. Still, he chafes at his church's silence amid the Batista regime's brutality. He chafes also at the life imposed on him by his priestly vows of celibacy. To free a parishioner's son from La Cabana prison, he and his brother Alberto bribe guards at the prison. The prisoner is released, but Pedro's brother is killed during the handover. Pedro joins with the underground to support the Fidelistas fighting in the Sierra Maestra mountains.
One of the women who helps lead him down that path is the sexy Dolores Barre, leader of an underground Havana cell and future wife of one of Castro's lieutenants. Another who will affect his life is Maria Guerra, a disaffected government official. Dolores and Maria persuade Pedro first to obtain medicines for the rebels, later to smuggle arms to them aboard his family's 40-foot sloop, The White Rose (named after a poem by Jose Marti, a 19th Century national hero, in which the white rose symbolizes Cuba and its brightest aspirations). As Pedro's involvement with the revolution grows, taking him into the mountains, gun in hand, his priestly ethics are abandoned. His celibacy vows also are left behind. After Batista flees the country and Castro's forces take power, Pedro—his core beliefs sacrificed—sees people close to him slowly realize they have fought a right-wing dictatorship only to witness a dictatorship of the left replace it. Some now are demonized as counterrevolutionaries. The White Rose, with Pedro at the helm, secretly slips off on a new mission.
|Product dimensions:||5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
What People are Saying About This
• Dr. Modesto Maidique, president emeritus of Florida International University and the builder of that now-major university for a quarter-century,now the force behind a leadership institute there. One of Miami’s best known people. Cuban-American; his father was an important political figure in Cuba.
• Guillermo Martinez, a first-rate journalist deeply connected in Miami’s Cuban community, co-editor of the recently published nonfiction book “Cubans: An Epic Journey.” Has also promised us access to PBS stations, Spanish-language TV and radio, and local newspapers in South Florida.
• David Lawrence, former publisher of the Miami Herald.
• Manuel Gonzalez, a Cuban-American cultural leader who is a trustee of New York’s New Museum of Contemporary Art and was chief curator for many years of David Rockefeller’s art collection at Chase Manhattan Bank and subsequent acquisitions at the J.P. Morgan Chase collection.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book is an engaging page-turner that takes you to the Cuban revolution in the 50’s. It is told through the narration of a priest who is dealing with his own inner personal conflicts as well the conflicts in his country under the dictatorship of Batista. The story is both suspenseful and intimate and presents you with a clear understanding of that revolution and it’s aftermath. I highly recommend this book both as an engrossing novel and an education into what happened in Cuba and what we have seen today with revolutions in other countries.
Reviewed by Juli Williamson for Readers' Favorite Island of the White Rose by R. Ira Harris is a period piece set in Cuba during the 1950s and the revolution. Father Pedro Villanueva is the conflicted hero of this novel, a lack-luster priest that enjoys his family’s well-to-do lifestyle more than he enjoys ministering to his flock. With the political unrest, Father Pedro is asked by a member of his congregation to help their son-in-law escape the prison where he is being held for political reasons. Father Pedro’s brother is killed and this event draws Pedro fully into the revolution. Between the death of his brother, the women he meets in the revolution, and becoming a fully fledged Fidelista, Pedro loses his faith and is looking for salvation. Island of the White Rose is a thought provoking novel set in the recent past, when the ideals that one professes to espouse and the actions that one engages in are often not the same. The tale is well written, with just enough history to allow a novice to learn something and not so much that I felt like I was taking a class. The book takes a look at what draws people to revolt, the inner mechanics that are so often overlooked by historians and newscasters: some are zealots and some just want to assist change in any way that they can. Harris gives us two different views why putting Fidel in power seemed to be the correct thing to do when the time came.
This novel brings to life Cuba in the late 1950s, when Fidel Castro and Che Guevara are fighting the forces of Fulgencio Batista, a ruthless dictator with some very wicked ways. Many who oppose Batista’s regime are tortured, killed or simply disappear. Fidel promises freedom from this nightmare and is planning to re-install the Catholic church to its former status once he takes over. Our story centres around the life of Pedro Villanueva, a priest who feels he has been forced into his ‘calling’ my his mother. He questions his faith and suitability for the priesthood then circumstances place him on the side of the rebels and his life is turned upside down. He meets two very different women - one that wants him for the revolution, the other befriends him and he sees a future with her away from the priesthood. Pedro is asked to minister the last rites to an inmate at La Cabana, the notorious prison run by Batista’s henchmen. He is shocked at what he finds there and is drawn to the rebel cause more and more. A family tragedy increases his desire to aid the rebels and bring freedom to the Cuban people. He attended the same school as Fidel Castro and, through his ability as a sailor, is called upon to work for the rebels and is re-acquainted with his old schoolmate at his hideout in the mountains. Pedro saves the life of one of the rebel leaders and is lauded as a hero of the revolution, a plaudit he is keen to distance himself from. When he returns to Havana, it is a very different place. The rebels are now running the town and their methods seem as brutal as the previous regime, and Pedro seeks an escape with the woman he has grown to love, but his drastic plan leads them into more danger. Interesting novel from a historical viewpoint but I felt let-down by the ending.
"Island of the White Rose" is a great page turner. The main character is Pedro Villanueva a priest who is struggling with his internal demonds while being dragged into a revolution seeking a change for the better in his beloved Cuba. Mr. Harris transport his reader into the days before and after Castro's takeover of the island, making his characters come alive by his skillful writing style. Pedro, the idealist; Domingo, the "bon vivant," a bit reminiscent of Friar Tuck; Dolores, the temptress who lures Pedro into the underground; and Maria, the woman who would steal his heart. A definite MUST read!
Island of the White Rose: A Novel is a rich tale. Cuba of the 50’s is vividly painted on the page. It was a place of wealth for few and injustice for many. Families would have children disappear from the streets never to be seen again or, worse, to be found in La Cabana – the jail – where people were treated as animals. They were locked in small cages and executed on the thinnest of pretence. In Harris’ tale it is clear that some of the problem, as happens in such a society, is the almost sexual high one person gets from dominating another and wringing every ounce of fear from them. Pedro, at points, is too good a character. He is a reluctant participant in the revolution. Change must come and he sees that but he doesn’t see the point of change if it comes in the path of destruction. He is willing to follow the leader and doesn’t see the risk in front of him. In the story he and his brother go into a situation believing that they have the upper hand because they have one gun between them. Logic would say within a story that Pedro should have been armed as well but he is too principled for that sort of work. Pedro is a dreamy romantic. He loves the sensual flash but it’s the home grown charm that really gets him going. He is an idealist in a world without room for idealism. He is a character with whom the reader connects. His fire burns bright in the story. I will not spoil the ending and will only say that it was spectacular and really, in hindsight, the only way to finish the novel. Island of the White Rose: A Novel was pure craftsmanship and attention to detail from start to finish. Island of the White Rose: A Novel is the story of a revolutionary and a very enjoyable one. If you like historical fiction or good literature Island of the White Rose: A Novel is the novel for you.