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Monsoon Mansion: A Memoir

Monsoon Mansion: A Memoir

by Cinelle Barnes


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Told with a lyrical, almost-dreamlike voice as intoxicating as the moonflowers and orchids that inhabit this world, Monsoon Mansion is a harrowing yet triumphant coming-of-age memoir exploring the dark, troubled waters of a family’s rise and fall from grace in the Philippines. It would take a young warrior to survive it.

Cinelle Barnes was barely three years old when her family moved into Mansion Royale, a stately ten-bedroom home in the Philippines. Filled with her mother’s opulent social aspirations and the gloriously excessive evidence of her father’s self-made success, it was a girl’s storybook playland. But when a monsoon hits, her father leaves, and her mother’s terrible lover takes the reins, Cinelle’s fantastical childhood turns toward tyranny she could never have imagined. Formerly a home worthy of magazines and lavish parties, Mansion Royale becomes a dangerous shell of the splendid palace it had once been.

In this remarkable ode to survival, Cinelle creates something magical out of her truth—underscored by her complicated relationship with her mother. Through a tangle of tragedy and betrayal emerges a revelatory journey of perseverance and strength, of grit and beauty, and of coming to terms with the price of family—and what it takes to grow up.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781542046145
Publisher: Amazon Publishing
Publication date: 10/30/2018
Pages: 252
Sales rank: 422,256
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Cinelle Barnes is an essayist, memoirist, educator, and candlemaker with a BA in media studies in journalism from Hunter College and a master of fine arts in creative writing from Converse College. Books have been the one constant in her life—through her tumultuous childhood in the Philippines, her years living as an undocumented immigrant in New York City, her time as a new bride living in the American South, and as she completed her MFA program and began writing about her secrets. She lives between two states with her husband and daughter: New York, where she is always inspired to write, and South Carolina, where she can be close to the ocean. Find her online at, and follow her on Instagram @cinellebarnesbooks.

Table of Contents

Author's Note 1

Prologue 3

Part 1 11

Garden Parry 13

Orchids in the Morning 24

Failing 31

Common Enemy 44

Elma 57

Glided 63

Forty Days 72

Mania, Come Back 82

Desert of His Mind 88

Part 2 101

Elvis Face 103

Jeepney Joyride 108

Fowl 118

Creatures, Great and Small 128

Library 139

Aqua Vitae 149

Woman at the Well 164

Sleep Now 173

Election Day 180

Monsoon Manifesto 197

Not Water, but Whiskey 204

No Fisher of Men 211

Millennium 214

The Season of the Sun 227

Acknowledgments 237

About the Author 241

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