Wendy Gimbel Havana Dreams: A Story of Cuba

ISBN 13: 9780679430537

Havana Dreams: A Story of Cuba

3,46 valoración promedio
( 105 valoraciones por Goodreads )
 
9780679430537: Havana Dreams: A Story of Cuba

A fascinating, powerfully evocative story of four generations of Cuban women, through whose lives the author illuminates a vivid picture--both personal and historical--of Cuba in our century.

"When I want to read a culture," writes Wendy Gimbel in her prologue, "I listen to stories about families, sensing in their contours the substance of larger mysteries." And certainly in the Revuelta family she has found a source of both mystery and revelation.

At its center is Naty: born in 1925, educated in the United States, a socialite during the Batista era, who after marriage to a prominent doctor and the birth of a daughter became intoxicated with Castro and his revolution (here, published for the first time, are the letters they exchanged while he was in jail). Though her husband and daughter immigrated to the United States after Castro's victory, Naty remained in Cuba to raise her second child, Castro's unacknowledged daughter, only to be ultimately confronted by his dismissive, withering judgment: "Naty missed the train." Her two daughters, one of whom settles well into life in America, while the other never recovers from her father's intransigent repudiation of her; her granddaughter, who Naty desperately believes will return to Cuba when--not if--Castro is removed from the island; and her mother, an unregenerate reactionary: these are the lives that complete this extraordinary story.

Each of the women is irrevocably marked with a part of the island's terrible and poignant tale, and Wendy Gimbel has created a rich and intense narrative of their lives and times. Havana Dreams leaves us with an indelible impression of familial obligation and illicit love; of the heady but doomed romanticism of revolution; and of the profound consequences of Cuba's contemporary history for the ordinary and most intimate lives of its people.

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Review:

All the main players in Wendy Gimbel's first memoir are steeped in reverie. Spurred on by memories of a roseate pre-Revolutionary Cuba where she spent summers as a child, playing in vast, shady courtyards surrounded by perfumed women and sugar-cane sweets, Gimbel returns to Cuba in the '90s in order to reclaim that vision. Instead of finding her "grandmother's Cuba," Gimbel is met instead by a nightmare of decrepitude, poverty, and disillusionment. She needs to reconcile the Cuba of her dreams with the Cuba of the present. She finds a family of women whose own imaginations straddle past and present and weaves the epic story of Cuban history out of the fabric of their family drama and dreams. Havana Dreams is at once the story of these women's lives, a history of a country, and a multifaceted dreamscape.

At the center is Dona Natica, a Batista-era socialite who, despite Castro's Communist regime, cloisters herself in the past, living in a decrepit mansion amid ancient crystal and china and pointing out her resemblance to England's Queen Elizabeth to anyone who visits. In direct opposition to Natica is her daughter Naty. In the heat of a revolutionary passion, she denounced her bourgeoisie existence (including a wealthy doctor husband and a young daughter) and took up with a hothead rabble-rouser named Fidel Castro. She corresponded with him while he was jailed for his failed insurrection against Batista--their letters are a fascinating inclusion in the book--and, when he was freed, bore his quasi-acknowledged daughter, Alina. Castro's revolution soon replaced Naty as his object of affection, and she dreams still of regaining his attention. These two women's sense of longing is passed on to the next generation as Nina, the elder of Naty's daughters, pursues an almost unrealistically stereotypical suburban life in America while Alina dreams of Miami and freedom and the father she never really knew. These women's tales, lyrically conveyed by Gimbel, hint at the complexity and richness of the modern Cuban experience.

About the Author:

Wendy Gimbel made many childhood visits to the family of her paternal grandmother in pre-Castro Cuba. She later went on to receive a Ph.D. in English literature, and is the author of a scholarly book on Edith Wharton. Her articles have appeared in the New York Times, Vogue, Mirabella, The Nation, and other publications. She has two grown sons and lives with her husband in New York City.

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