Category Archives: Allende Isabel

The Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende

DATE FINISHED: September 15th, 2011             

RATED: ***(3.5)

SYNOPSIS:  Tete is sold to plantation owner Valmorain when she is a child, as a gift for his new bride.  However as his wife succumbs to illness in the suffocating tropical atmosphere of Saint-Domingue (later Haiti), Valmorain finds additional uses for Tete.  The children she bears & raises for him change the course of both of their lives irrevocably, but Tete waits only for her freedom.  When Valmorain moves to New Orleans to escape the slaves rebellion and danger of Saint-Domingue, Tete’s situation changes again as Valmorain takes a new wife.  But in a new country & a new city, where interactions between the free and slaves, between whites and those of colour are even more complex, Tete and her children have all new challenges and relationships to face.

THOUGHTS:  I was initially taken aback by Allende’s sprawling prose, descriptive and decadent as the tropical climes represented, Read more of this post

Savage Lands by Clare Clark

DATE FINISHED: September 7th, 2011

RATED: ****

SYNOPSIS:  Sold by her father in Paris to become a wife in the ‘prosperous’ new colony of Louisiana, Elisabeth Savaret finds her expectations confounded at every turn – especially when she falls violently in love with the man she marries, the charming but untrustworthy Babelon.  Having been left as an observer of the local Ouma ‘savages’ throughout his teenage years, Auguste Guichard is befriended by Babelon, a move which shapes the lives of the three protagonists from that moment forth.

THOUGHTS:  Although there are one or two moments when Clark’s narrative makes brief and unaccountable leaps, for the most part this is a well-written novel, with strong, considered language accompanying strong, considered characters.   Read more of this post