Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende

Title: Island Beneath the Sea
Author: Isabel Allende
Genre: “historical” fiction
ISBN: 9780061988240
Pages: 457
Year Published: 2009 (Spanish; 2010 English)
Source: personal library
Rating: 5/5

Summary from book jacket:

Isabel Allende’s triumphant return to historical fiction tells the story of Zarité, a nine-year-old mulatto girl who is sold as a slave in eighteenth-century Santo Domingo. This sweeping novel follows her and other slaves over forty years, telling the story of their exploitation and the miserable conditions of their lives. Adding depth and color to the story are the women who help Zarité survive: Violette, the prostitute; Loula, the businesswoman; the witch Tante Rose; and the plantation cook, Tante Matilde. In Zarité, Isabel Allende has created another of her unforgettable characters: a fighter, a heroine, a woman who will prevail regardless of what the future might hold.

I really liked this book. Especially the historical and tropical aspects of it. It wasn’t as “historical” as I thought it would be. I thought it would have more about the revolution in Saint Domingue (Haiti) and historical/political information. There wasn’t even an author’s note in this book, which most of my historical fiction have included. For this reason, I’m contemplating whether or not to classify it as historical fiction. I think for now I’ll include it in my Historical Fiction Challenge, but will replace it if I happen to go over my quota for the challenge.

Anyways, I included more of my thoughts in the previous post as I was reading, which I hope to do more of. So you can see in that how I felt about much of the book.

~*~SPOILER~*~ Something toward the end of the story that interested me was a pair of half-siblings getting married. He was Maurice, the legitimate son of Valmorain and Eugenia (plantation owner and wife); she was Rosette, the illegitimate daughter of Valmorain and Tete (slave). I could understand a little more if they didn’t know about the fact that they were half-siblings. But these two DID know. They just didn’t care. I thought perhaps it had been a ploy to get Valmorain to acknowledge Rosette as his daughter, but alas! it wasn’t. ~*~END SPOILER~*~

For my first Allende, I loved this book.  I’ve had Daughter of Fortune on my shelf for years and never picked it up. Now I really look forward to actually reading this. I imagine Allende’s writing would be even more lyrical in the original Spanish, but I don’t know Spanish. I especially loved how all of the characters were intertwined and everyone was related to each other through marriage/birth/adoption. It made it even more intriguing.

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I just want to add that I did purchase a book while on vacation:

American Indian Myths and Legends by Richard Erdoes and Alfonso Ortiz. I found it in a secondhand book store and thought it seemed interesting. And it serves two purposes: my future social studies teaching and my authentic interest in Native American stories.

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