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Die Insel unter dem Meer: Roman by Isabel…
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Die Insel unter dem Meer: Roman (original 2009; edition 2010)

by Isabel Allende, Isabel Allende (Author), Svenja Becker (Übersetzer)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,892985,789 (3.94)105
"The story of a mulatta woman, a slave and concubine, determined to take control of her own destiny in a society where that would seem impossible"--Provided by publisher.
Member:anneken
Title:Die Insel unter dem Meer: Roman
Authors:Isabel Allende
Other authors:Isabel Allende (Author), Svenja Becker (Übersetzer)
Info:Suhrkamp Verlag (2010), Edition: 6, Gebundene Ausgabe, 557 pages
Collections:Your library, Favorites
Rating:*****
Tags:None

Work details

Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende (2009)

Recently added bylourdes_rosa, private library, Fidelias, Amandable, Gittel, nancyeb, kaydern, VanessaRomero
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» See also 105 mentions

English (77)  Dutch (7)  Spanish (6)  Italian (3)  Norwegian (1)  Catalan (1)  French (1)  German (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (98)
Showing 1-5 of 77 (next | show all)
Brilliant - another Allende masterpiece. It is not a happy story in any way but has great compassion. It is also, I think, a great history of Haiti and the grim mechanics of the slave trade. ( )
  HenryRawlingson | Jul 1, 2019 |
This is the first Isabel Allende book that I've read that I haven't loved unreservedly. To the good side, it contains the beautiful language and complex, well-drawn characters, (where even the villains are compelling) that I've come to expect from her. The story, itself, was fascinating, about a time and place I knew little.

All that said, reading it just felt too much like work. I put it down and picked it up a couple of times before actually finishing (which I don't usually do). It's as if Allende wanted to make sure we knew that she had done her research, and felt the need to include every historical nugget she turned up; it could have benefited from a bit more judicious editing, I think. ( )
  Lauconn | Dec 18, 2018 |
A work of historical fiction that follows the life of Tete, a slave, and her owner Toulouse Valmorain. The first half of the book is set in what is now Haiti, in the late 1700s and the time leading up to the Haitian Revolution and slave rebellion, and the second half is after they escape to New Orleans.

I studied the Haitian slave rebellion at university and it's a fascinating episode in history. I would have liked to have seen a bit more about it in the book, rather than just these characters who are in the periphery and flee fairly early on.

This novel was an easy read, but it took me a whole month to get through it as I'd get bored and wander off to do something else or fall asleep.

Rating: Island Beneath the Sea is one of those books that readers rate much higher than the critics. I'm with the critics on this one -- it's a good book, but not great.

Recommended for: readers who like straight-forward historical fiction and readers who want to learn about the Haitian Revolution.

For some reason, Isabel Allende books always end up with "magic realism" tags on LT, which drives me nuts. None of the 4 Allende books I've read have had any magic realism. So if you're one of those people who avoids MR, don't shy away from her writing. Yes, House of the Spirits is a key MR text, but that doesn't mean everything she writes is magic realism. Sheesh! (stepping off my soap box now). ( )
1 vote Nickelini | Nov 29, 2018 |
This novel, told by Tete, an enslaved woman of Haiti and Louisiana, is filled with graphic detail about the Haitian revolution and of the lives of women in the Caribbean - drudgery and finery, depending on desirability as a sexual partner or a sugar cane cutter, or both. It's also about the privilege enabled by that "one drop" of white blood, and by the impact of geopolitics on both regions. Tete is sold as a child and ends up being raped by Toulouse Valmorain, a planter from France, at age 11. She has two children by him and also becomes the lover of Gambo, an African lieutenant to Toussaint L'Overture, founder of modern Haiti. The reader is not spared the brutality of sugar cane harvesting in the inhospitable climate, and the suicides and death from overwork that result. There's a perfect balance here between the political and the family lives of Tete and Violette, a courtesan, and how indebted Valmorain is to both for his life and those of his children. There's only a tiny modicum of peace and justice for the heroic Tete, and Allende leaves the reader wondering about the fate of the four children under her care at the close of the book. ( )
  froxgirl | Nov 5, 2018 |
This book is similar to _House of the Spirits_, especially in the plot twists and archetypical characters. It seems like the background is changed, but the story lines are similar. I think that Allende is a fairly interesting author because she uses unique details, but the framework is similar. This is a good book for comfort reading rather than reaching out for something new. ( )
  ktshpd | Oct 22, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 77 (next | show all)
After the recent catastrophes in New Orleans and Haiti, I had hoped this novel would teach me something new about the history of those places, but it did not. I kept wondering when the story would take off, but it never did. There is no magical realism here, and little realism of the ordinary kind. It has much more in common with Cartland than with Márquez.
added by Nickelini | editThe Telegraph, Lewis Jones (May 30, 2010)
 
Island Beneath the Sea isn't Allende's greatest work, but she handles a difficult issue with, for the most part, considerable restraint and grace. Allende isn't, and never has been, a terribly subtle writer -- her plots are typically markedly dramatic, and her characters often wear their motivations and emotions on their sleeves. But she's a little more reined in than usual here, despite a few ornate phrasings that might have lost something in translation ("Meanwhile, the French Revolution had hit the colony like the slash of a dragon's tail ... ").
 
With this admirable novel, Allende cements her reputation as a writer of wide scope and amazing talent. Although very traditional in its unfolding — readers enamored by her use of magical realism will find little in this narrative — this historical novel does what one hopes a book of its ilk will do: transport readers to a new world, open up history and make it come alive, and cause readers to forget time passing in the world the author has so carefully and lovingly built.
 
Critics devised the label “magical feminism” just for Isabel Allende’s multigenerational family chronicles featuring strong-willed women, usually entangled in steamy love affairs against a backdrop of war and political upheaval. These elements are all present in her latest novel, “Island Beneath the Sea,” which is set partly in late-18th-century Haiti. The protagonist, a mulatto slave named Zarité, is maid to a sugar planter’s wife who gradually goes mad. (The Caribbean seems to have had a reliably deranging effect on women in fiction, from “Jane Eyre” onward.) Even before her mistress’s death, Zarité becomes the concubine of her master, Valmorain, submitting to that role across decades and borders, even when he flees to New Orleans after the 1791 slave revolt. ...
In a welcome revision, Allende brings women to the forefront of the story of the rebellion. She replaces the African war god Ogun with the love goddess Erzulie. (In the one episode that most approaches magic realism, Erzulie possesses Zarité, but even then it’s unclear whether this is merely happening in Zarité’s imagination.) Ultimately, however, Allende has traded innovative language and technique for a fundamentally straight­forward historical pageant. There is plenty of melodrama and coincidence in “Island Beneath the Sea,” but not much magic.
 
NOT MAGIC, NOT REALISM
This failure to capture history in the making is the greatest contrast between this book and Allende’s early works. The rich texture of details that Allende provided in The House of the Spirits and Of Love and Shadows served to bring a particular universe vividly to life. The rich details were not superfluous or banal—they had a purpose, they represented a larger understanding. In Island Beneath the Sea, by contrast, what we get is a shallow and lazy pastiche of a well-researched historical mise-en-scène embellished by irrelevant but colorful particulars that are supposed to certify the book’s authenticity but are instead a poor substitute for a deeper comprehension of what this moment in history was about.
 

» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Isabel Allendeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Juan, AnaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Margaret Sayers PedenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Risvik, KariTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Risvik, KjellTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my children, Nicolas and Lori
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In my forty years I, Zarite Sedella, have had better luck than other slaves.
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