Once again I have been buying more books then I have time to read. I was taking a client in for an appointment last week and realized that I would have over an hour to wait for her. It was a hot sunny day and I had no book! I went to the local bookstore and picked out 3 new books (I had a really hard time picking one – so I got three!). As soon as I saw Isabel Allende’s newest novel I had to get it. I adore Isabel Allende. Her books make me feel wonderful and make me want to travel Latin America. Now from reading Island Beneath The Sea I really want to travel to the Dominican Republic and back to New Orleans.
Here is the synopsis from Amazon.com “Zarité, called Tété, is born into slavery in the colony of Saint-Domingue, where enslaved Africans are worked to death by the thousands, and European men prey on women of color. So it is with Tété and her “master,” the deeply conflicted plantation owner Toulouse Valmorain, who relies on her for everything from coerced sex to caring for his demented first wife, his legitimate son, and their off-the-record daughter. When the slave uprising that gives birth to the free black republic of Haiti erupts, Toulouse, Tété, and the children flee to Cuba, then to New Orleans. In a many-faceted plot, Allende animates irresistible characters authentic in their emotional turmoil and pragmatic adaptability. She also captures the racial, sexual, and entrepreneurial dynamics of each society in sensuous detail while masterfully dramatizing the psychic wounds of slavery”.
I loved this book. For starters the cover is beautiful and makes you want to read it every time you look at it. I love books that have amazing covers – it makes all the difference when deciding what to buy and what not to. This book is wonderfully written. It is set in Haiti (before it was Haiti) and is centered around a slave named Zarite. In the first page of the book we discover that she is now free – as are her children – and the book tells the story of how she became free.
There are some amazing characters in this book and some characters that I just hated. This always happens in books that discuss slavery. In modern times it is hard to even imagine people feeling that others can be owned and are less then human (even though in some countries it still happens – especially when looking at domestic workers brought from developing countries and trafficking for prostitution). My favorite character was a tie between Violette and Sancho. They both had big personalities and were kind hearted people who knew what they wanted.
This book made me feel the heat of the tropics and the sadness that Zarite felt when her child was taken away. To make me feel that, Isabel Allende wrote with beauty and with knowledge. I would definitely recommend this novel to everyone I know!