Queen of the Underworld

Queen of the Underworld

by Gail Godwin
2.7 13


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Queen of the Underworld by Gail Godwin

Here at last is the eagerly awaited new novel from New York Times bestselling author Gail Godwin. Queen of the Underworld is sweeping and sultry literary fiction, featuring a memorable young heroine and engaging characters whose intimate dramas interconnect with hers.
In the summer of 1959, as Castro clamps down on Cuba and its first wave of exiles flees to the States to wait out what they hope to be his short-lived reign, Emma Gant, fresh out of college, begins her career as a reporter. Her fierce ambition and belief in herself are set against the stories swirling around her, both at the newspaper office and in her downtown Miami hotel, which is filling up with refugees.
Emma’s avid curiosity about life thrives amid the tropical charms and intrigues of Miami. While toiling at the news desk, she plans the fictional stories she will write in her spare time. She spends her nights getting to know the Cuban families in her hotel–and rendezvousing with her married lover, Paul Nightingale, owner of a private Miami Beach club.
As Emma experiences the historical events enveloping the city, she trains her perceptive eye on the people surrounding her: a newfound Cuban friend who joins the covert anti-Castro training brigade, a gambling racketeer who poses a grave threat to Paul, and a former madam, still in her twenties, who becomes both Emma’s obsession and her alter ego. Emma’s life, like a complicated dance that keeps sweeping her off her balance, is suddenly filled with divided loyalties, shady dealings, romantic and professional setbacks, and, throughout, her adamant determination to avoid “usurpation” by others and remain the protagonist of her own quest.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345483188
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/10/2006
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.76(h) x 1.18(d)

About the Author

Gail Godwin is a three-time National Book Award nominee and the bestselling author of many critically acclaimed novels, including A Mother and Two Daughters, Violet Clay, Father Melancholy’s Daughter, Evensong, The Good Husband, and Evenings at Five. She is also the author of The Making of a Writer: Journals, 1961—1963, the first of two volumes, edited by Rob Neufeld. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts grant for both fiction and libretto writing, and the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She has written libretti for ten musical works with the composer Robert Starer. Visit the author’s website at www.gailgodwin.com.

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Queen of the Underworld 2.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
After reading 'A Mother and Two Daughters' and other Gail Godwin books, I felt as if I had been cut off in the middle of a chapter. Surely, this is not how the book should end! What on earth is she thinking? There is so much more to explore in the Miami-Cuban exile, the love affair with Paul, the work up to the top of the reporting lineage. We have been cheated. I liked Gail Godwin books for one reason - they were LONG! Lots of plots and character development. This one has neither.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I struggled through this book, hoping that each of the four parts would finally flesh out these interesting and intriguing characters. However, that was the basic problem with the novel - no character development. I kept thinking this was written like a script, and that good actors would somehow be able to convey the essence of the character they might be playing. Annoying too, were the repetitious letters to the protagaonist's family which simply recapped the story. The long passages in Spanish seemed to serve no purpose except to display the author's fluency in the language. And, the printing of the heroine's newspaper stories word for word made for quite a lot of skipping text. I've enjoyed Godwin's previous works, especially 'Father Melancholy's Daughter' but on this one, she seemed to be merely putting words on paper.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not wirth the time or money!! I kept waiting for this book to move past the self-absorbed, jealous and arrogant main character. Emma seems to view life from only her perspective - what people can do for her or how they are out to get her. Sad! 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Emma was a sorry excuse for a women. She seemed clueless to her impact on others or to what was going on in the world around her. The sentences in this book were choppy and the dialogue didn't flow at all. The entire book felt like I was waiting for something to happen and it never did. The characters were very superficial.Not worth reading at all.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was my first Gail Godwin and probably my last. I could not warm up to Emma - for some reason, I found her arrogant with very little to redeem that impression. And I found Godwin's slant on history somewhat specious. Castro is hardly a heroic figure, but the fact is that many of the exiles that left Cuba at the time Castro took over were wealthy and corrupt, as was Battista. The charming exiles in the Julia Tuttle Hotel with their huge estates and business in Cuba were probably guilty of exploiting the Cuban poor and lower middle class. It made it difficult for me to sympathize with the exiles. But more unforgivable is that, as one other review said, the book just ends. I don't mind being challenged by a book and don't necessarily have to have all loose ends tied up, but I got the feeling that Ms. Godwin just got tired of writing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Emma Gant has a huge appetite for life! She's just graduated from college and landed a coveted job as a reporter at the Miami Star newspaper. Anxious to escape having to return to her stepfather's physical and sexual abuse, she's put plenty of energy into getting as far away from him as she can, albeit regretting the whole situation for her mother whom she dearly loves. But enthusiasm hardly prepares Emma for what she will meet in steaming, multicultural Miami. Yes, she's got an older lover there already but she's still unprepared for the cutthroat competition she will meet in the journalistic world. Starting out writing miniscule obit and hospital reports, she manages in the two weeks in which this novel takes place to discover the secrets behind the Miami Mafia, Cuban exiles shipping illegal arms as dental equipment back to Cuba during the time of Fidel Castro's rise to power, and the sad story behind an ex-Madam of a whorehouse. Although much that happens in the space of these two weeks, it's all pretty much covered on the surface without much development. But one must place one's self within the context of a woman working a new job in the man's world of the 1960s. Keeping that in mind, Emma's propulsion into all of this worldly activity certainly makes sense and makes for interesting reading. She's a gutsy character who rises from her losses prepared to tackle whatever challenges come her way. The only thing that doesn't make much sense is her falling for an older guy, given her negative background with her stepfather. Given the rapidly changing world of the 60's generation, though, Emma Gant (catch the literary parallels with Jane Austin and Thomas Wolfe's characters) certainly gets an education about rich Cuban exiles now floating in memories and little else, the 'Lucifer-like' world of journalism, but most of all dreaming big no matter what the world tosses one's way Interesting story that has plenty of zip in spots! Reviewed by Viviane Crystal on March 18, 2007
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1959, having just graduated college and unable to stay under the domineering control of her parents, Emma Gant leaves North Carolina by train to start as a reporter at the Miami Star at a time when the southern city is a hot bed of Cuban exiles. Adding to her self imposed exile to southern Florida is her married lover Miami Beach nightclub owner Paul Nightingale lives there. --- In Miami she takes a room at the Julia Tuttle Hotel where Emma meets Cuban families who fled Castro¿s revolution. Life is exciting for Emma as she learns how to be a real journalist mentored by professionals at the Star and much about Cuba before and during the Castro conquest. Struggling with influences that pull at the young reporter, Emma meets a horde of people impacted by Castro¿s Communist revolution especially a non-journalist life mentor former madam Ginevra Brown, THE QUEEN OF THE UNDERWORLD. --- This is an interesting look at Miami at a time of turmoil that has turned the city and much of Southern Florida upside down. The support cast is solid and eccentric adding a touch of time and place to what the rookie reporter observes as everyday people do non-ordinary tasks. The heroine is also well drawn as more of an observer who has broken the prime directive of not getting involved in the story. However, the influx of sidebars like segments in Spanish and newspaper articles may augment the realism, but disrupts the flow of the story line though overall Gail Godwin provides a fine look at 1960s Miami. --- Harriet Klausner
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had been eagerly awaiting a new book by Gail Godwin. Her other novels grabbed you on the first page and didn't let go until the end. This novel was very disjointed, too much Spanish, too many newspaper articles and just ended with the turning of a page. I was tempted several times to just put the book down, but hope kept me going to an abrupt unfinished ending.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I did not know if I could finish reading this book. So long and so empty... I wonder why the editor took the risk to publish. One funny detail: the character is a journalist who doesn't watch tv!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Full of interesting characers, great insight into a fascinating time in Miami and a heroine who is witty, insightful and leads us through some fun and poignant stories. A delightful read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an interesting book which provides a background on Cuban citizens in Florida and depicts a young, self-involved woman testing her strength and attractiveness. I suspect Godwin has begun a retrospective look at her life, coupled as this book is with the publication of the first volume of her extremely detailed memoir (which may actually be of more interest to her fans.) I found this book disappointing since the main character does not have the depth of figures in her earlier works. That may well be the point, since who among us at a young age had any true depth?
GailCooke More than 1 year ago
While many recognize the name of actress Stephanie Zimbalist, few may know that she studied acting and singing at Julliard. This training stands her in good stead, whether she's appearing on stage, TV, in film, or reading audio books. Perhaps best known for her role of a smart, stylish sleuth on TV's Remington Steele opposite Pierce Brosnan, Zimbalist has a history of playing strong, intelligent women and she does it again in her narration of 'Queen of the Underworld.' The setting is Miami in 1959, the time of the Cuban Revolution. Emma Gant, a very recent graduate of the university at chapel Hill, has arrived after accepting a job as a reporter with the Miami Star (Not the Charlotte Observer, much to her step-father's dismay). She's convinced she's on her way up - she'll become a famous novelist and being a reporter will buy bread, butter and blouses until that time comes. Keeping her company during her ascent is Paul Nightingale, owner of a private club and her married lover. Peopling her new life are a gaggle of Cuban refugees as well as the comely woman of the title, a madam with a Mafia beau. As fans of Gail Godwin know one of her greatest attributes is characterization and she has a ball with the group she brings to 'Queen of the Underworld.' She has spun an engaging story (perhaps in part based on her years as a young journalist in Florida?). Stephanie Zimbalist is delicious as she eases from the Spanish speaking Cubans to the eyes-wide-open learning every minute Emma. Pure pleasure - enjoy! - Gail Cooke