Comments (18)Add a Comment
Isabel Allende’s Island Beneath the Sea launches fearlessly into the dark history of the Haitian Revolution through the eyes of a large cast of characters revolving around the life of Tété. Known by those closest to her as Zarité, this courageous African girl is purchased as a slave by Frenchman Toulouse Valmorain, a character who manages to be simultaneously mild-mannered and wretchedly twisted. This sweeping, sobering novel grows in magnificence alongside Tété as she becomes a woman who must bear the weight of the world as a plantation slave. Tété comes to be the mother she was never afforded while she raises children with the hauntingly authentic Valmorain, a man she does not fear but must submit to for years. As the ominous violence of the Revolution nears, Tété convinces Valmorain to flee with her and the children and eventually they find themselves established in New Orleans on a new plantation. Valmorain’s white child forms an unbreakable bond with Tété’s mixed race child and both are challenged amidst the foreign climate while Tété fights for her independence. Allende effortlessly weaves together the gritty events of an emotionally intense narrative in this candid novel that spans the decades of Tété’s life.
An engrossing and heart-wrenching family saga, told masterfully. Allende depicts the brutality of slavery without holding back, and she writes characters who are compelling and multi-faceted. This is an excellent book club read, as the characters, situations, and historical context all made for riveting discussion. This would also be a great read if you're looking to learn about the colonization and slavery that took place in Haiti and so many other island nations during the late 1700s and early 1800s, from the perspective of the oppressed.
I really appreciate a well written story or novel; especially when I'm a virgin to the writing of a particular author. And "Island Beneath the Sea" is my first Isabel Allende novel. The characters and the story are interesting. Allende knows how to weave the historical details with the fiction.
This is one of the books that grip you from the first chapter. This story is intriguing, mysterious, full of sorrow, pain, love, tragedy, triumph and happiness. Full of details and mesmerizing, this book awakens your soul. Isabel Allende is very talented.
I loved this book! Moving between New Orleans and El Caribe, the author explores the history of the slave trade, slave loyalty and slave owner relationships. These types of books are fascinating looks into the character of people and relationships and a reminder that one can't have it all, all the time. Beautifully written.
The novel opens in Saint-Domingue (modern day Haiti) on the eve of revolution and portrays the life and experiences of a resilient woman, named Tete. The story spans four decades and explores her experiences as a slave in Saint-Domingue, Cuba, and New Orleans. I found this book to be a mix of engaging and meandering.
This is like Uncle Tom's Cabin for Haiti, which is a deep compliment. My first experience reading Allende and I really enjoyed it. At times she seemed just a tad too politically correct, but that is a minor complaint about a good read which really taught me a lot about the history of Haiti.
Allende breaks the rule of 'show don't tell' but this richly layered novel is still deeply engrossing.
Isabel Allende does not let the reader down with this book. Another great saga novel. I grew to love Tete and couldn't put the book down as I wanted to find out what would come next for her, hoping all the time it would be love and happiness.
Amazing book by an amazing author. Loved the historical part of the fiction and learning about the history of Haiti. Looking forward to reading more of Allende.
Follows the life of a slave girl born in Ste Domingue (now Haiti) and later living in Louisiana. Covers the period during the late 1700s and early 1800s when, after much strife, the Republic of Haiti was established. This was also the time of the Louisiana Purchase. Historical background especially in second half of novel is very detailed.
Very dense with detail, which made it a little overwhelming for me. I really enjoyed the story, but it felt a bit like I was slogging through from time to time. I've loved this author for years and while this isn't one of my favorites, I'd still recommend it.
Once past the wanton cruelty, this book is quite absorbing and offers insights into today's sad Haiti
I love Allende's storytelling, however, the amount of detail she included made it difficult to sink into the story. She kept me skimming the surface trying to sift through all the information.
In other words, it wasn't a book I rushed to pick up after putting it down.
I thought that this book was mostly engaging throughout, but found that it was slow in parts with excessive description. However, the author effectively presents the reader with the history of Haiti, Cuba and New Orleans through the story of Tété, a domestic slave on a sugar cane plantation. This is the story of her life, her devotion to her children and her strength.
Engaging and dramatic. Allende draws you into the history of Haiti through the story of Tete, a plantation slave. There is no melodrama here, though, just magnificent storytelling.