A highly recommended rendering of a love affair and mysterious slice of Cuban history.

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A HUNDRED FIRES IN CUBA

A young American woman has to choose between her Cuban lover—the father of her child—and the older rico she has married. And in novelist Thorndike’s (Anna Delaney’s Child, 2011, etc.) telling, this fictionalized history plays out against the early years of the Cuban revolution.

Clare Miller, professional photographer, meets Camilo Cienfuegos at a photo shoot at the Waldorf Astoria where he is a line cook. They fall in love; she gets pregnant; he gets deported and joins Fidel Castro’s revolution. In fact, he becomes one of Fidel’s top lieutenants. Meanwhile, Clare travels to Cuba with her daughter, Alameda, hoping to find Camilo, though she fears that he is dead. She meets Domingo Beltran, a widower who offers her work as a photographer. He is a good man, and Clare marries him, if only to give Ala a father. But of course Camilo isn’t dead, and very shortly he arrives in Havana as one of the conquering barbudos (bearded ones). Clare leaves Domingo. Camilo does love her, and Ala may accept him in time, but he is also deeply loyal to Fidel and caught up in the madness of the day. On a flight to the eastern provinces to bring an old comrade to “justice,” his plane disappears. Shortly thereafter, Domingo quits Cuba for Miami. Then the new regime forces Clare and Ala into exile. The historical Camilo Cienfuegos and his pilot were in fact never found. But this is fiction, and he survives. Domingo surfaces again…and we will leave it at that. Thorndike is a talented, experienced writer, and Clare and Camilo especially are fully developed, attractive characters. The dynamic between Camilo and Fidel is fascinating. Camilo is a joyous revolutionary and wants a revolution that really does fulfill its promises to the poor and dispossessed. Fidel, on the other hand, is a dangerous ideologue whose first directive is to eliminate perceived threats. (It’s very likely that the crucial plane crash was no accident at all.)

A highly recommended rendering of a love affair and mysterious slice of Cuban history.

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9972644-7-0

Page Count: 330

Publisher: Beck & Branch

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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