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Havana Dreams: A Story of a Cuba by Wendy Gimbel
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0786115866, Audio Cassette)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.
(retrieved from Amazon Wed, 26 Apr 2017 20:02:32 -0400)
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