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Queen of the Underworld: A Novel by Gail…
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Queen of the Underworld: A Novel

by Gail Godwin

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
I had the audio version of this book, so my inability to finish had as much, or more, to do with problems with the format than with the qualities of the book, itself. When changing from disk to disk (even though it was an electronic download rather than actual disks) it seemed to skip entire sections of the story. There was enough revisiting of previously detailed scenes that I was never quite sure whether there was actual skipping, or whether the author was using sudden stops in the action, and skipping to entirely different scenes as a stylistic point, given that there was some suggestion that the narrator was journaling her experiences, an activity that sometimes does involve suddenly stopping writing, and picking up at a different place later on.

That said, I found the narrator annoying and, to some extent, unbelievable. Whether I would have found her so if I had been reading from a book rather than listening to the audio, I can't say. I think I will have to get the book and try reading it to myself and find out, as the story about what was going on in Miami in the wake of the Cuban Revolution promises to be interesting, regardless of whether I like the person telling the story.
  duende | Feb 6, 2014 |
In this novel, set in Miami in the early 60s, just after Castro took power in Cuba, the characters are interesting, the writing good, and the plot minimalist. The protagonist, Emma Gant, is a young journalist, just moved to Miami, flirting with being a femme fatale, and at the same time, trying to be taken seriously by the old dogs at the newspaper. She develops a fascination for a local character, a woman who is now respectable but has a colorful past as a madam in a brothel.

The historical and regional detail is vivid, but I had a hard time getting under Emma’s skin. This period in Miami is presented as a crossroads in her life, but I never really felt it had changed her much. She seems just as cool and removed at the end of the novel as she did in the beginning.
( )
  astrologerjenny | Apr 25, 2013 |
Young Emma Gant, a new graduate from J school, has recently received her first assignment, working as the Miami Star’s newest reporter. This is her chance to break free from a small town existence, a controlling step father and to live her dream. Following an interesting train ride she arrives at her hotel, escorted by her aunt Tess. The surroundings are not what she expected, not even a view of the beach. Disappointed yet pleased with its potential, the Julia Tuttle becomes her sanctuary, her comfort, her shield from the harshness of the real world. Emma is anticipating a phone call; it will be the voice of her married lover, Paul, coming to whisk her away. The owner of a resort where Emma worked last summer, he was her every heartbeat. The reunion will be sweet. Will they have a future or will fate change Emma’s perfect plans? With a mired of multi-faceted characters crossing her path Emma finds her first days on the job to be a roller coaster of events. Writing obits, avoiding the “glass cage” of the women’s section, visiting the papers “morgue”, interviews with tornado survivors and even an encounter with “The Queen of the Underworld” give her many challenges. It is the time of Cuban unrest and Fidel Castro’s usurping of land. The city has an influx of immigrants from varied walks of life, mingled with local color, from aristocratic know-it-alls, to young madams to mafia warnings; each seems a potential threat to her developing “Emma-ness”. Feeling diminished by the experience of other reporters, Emma goes the extra mile to make her mark. Can she carve a niche out for herself? Will she live up to “Lucifer’s” expectations or will she be cast off, banished, to a small town office? The entire book takes place over a period of about 2 weeks and it is filled with Emma’s constant thoughts and imaginings. To truly understand and appreciate the story to the fullest, one should have lived in that era or studied about it. By the way, don’t forget your Spanish-English dictionary. ( )
  TheReadersCove | Sep 29, 2012 |
Utterly disappointing. The central character was white bread vanilla, though she made noises about amounting to something. all the interesting characters swirled around her, but with not enough face time in the story. I was left hanging as to what happened to everyone. Feh.

A couple of good points about the book though: It filled me in on Miami history and the Cuban revolution at the time it was happening and I learned a lot about perfume making (though not so much about newspaper writing.) ( )
1 vote bookczuk | Dec 24, 2008 |
It reminded me of myself at that age, probably because it's so autobiographical. ( )
  picardyrose | Jul 27, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345483197, Paperback)

Here at last is the eagerly awaited new novel from New York Times bestselling author Gail Godwin. Queen of the Underworld is sweeping and sultry literary fiction, featuring a memorable young heroine and engaging characters whose intimate dramas interconnect with hers.
In the summer of 1959, as Castro clamps down on Cuba and its first wave of exiles flees to the States to wait out what they hope to be his short-lived reign, Emma Gant, fresh out of college, begins her career as a reporter. Her fierce ambition and belief in herself are set against the stories swirling around her, both at the newspaper office and in her downtown Miami hotel, which is filling up with refugees.
Emma’s avid curiosity about life thrives amid the tropical charms and intrigues of Miami. While toiling at the news desk, she plans the fictional stories she will write in her spare time. She spends her nights getting to know the Cuban families in her hotel–and rendezvousing with her married lover, Paul Nightingale, owner of a private Miami Beach club.
As Emma experiences the historical events enveloping the city, she trains her perceptive eye on the people surrounding her: a newfound Cuban friend who joins the covert anti-Castro training brigade, a gambling racketeer who poses a grave threat to Paul, and a former madam, still in her twenties, who becomes both Emma’s obsession and her alter ego. Emma’s life, like a complicated dance that keeps sweeping her off her balance, is suddenly filled with divided loyalties, shady dealings, romantic and professional setbacks, and, throughout, her adamant determination to avoid “usurpation” by others and remain the protagonist of her own quest.


From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:35 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"In the summer of 1959, as Castro clamps down on Cuba and its first wave of exiles flees to the States to wait out what they hope to be his short-lived reign, Emma Gant, fresh out of college, begins her career as a reporter. Her fierce ambition and belief in herself are set against the stories swirling around her, both at the newspaper office and in her downtown Miami hotel, which is filling up with refugees." "Emma's avid curiosity about life thrives amid the tropical charms and intrigues of Miami. While toiling at the news desk, she plans the fictional stories she will write in her spare time. She spends her nights getting to know the Cuban families in her hotel - and rendezvousing with her married lover, Paul Nightingale, owner of a private Miami Beach club." "As Emma experiences the historical events enveloping the city, she trains her perceptive eye on the people surrounding her: a newfound Cuban friend who joins the covert anti-Castro training brigade, a gambling racketeer who poses a grave threat to Paul, and a former madam, still in her twenties, who becomes both Emma's obsession and her alter ego. Emma's life, like a complicated dance that keeps sweeping her off her balance, is suddenly filled with divided loyalties, shady dealings, romantic and professional setbacks, and, throughout, her adamant determination to avoid "usurpation" by others and remain the protagonist of her own quest."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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