In this novel, a young woman navigates romance and discovers her mother’s own murky romantic past.
Eastley’s novel starts off interestingly enough with Tita’s daughter, Teresa, becoming lost in the Texas woods while running away from a man she believes may have been a ghost. She later meets the man, Bo, at a party in New York City. They fall in love, but Teresa learns she is Bo’s sister. Their love story includes Bo’s 15-page description of Les Miserables, which mercifully ends with Teresa almost comically saying, “Very interesting.” Only after Tita passes out and suddenly dies upon hearing of Teresa’s love for Bo does this ill-conceived work begin to unravel how Tita had seduced her multimillionaire boss, Thomas Antoine, on a business trip to Cuba. Finally, about 100 pages in, the story takes off, helped by some wonderful passages, including how any man must feel when considering having an affair with a young, attractive woman and being unfaithful to his loving wife: “Two angels were sitting on his shoulders, a good one and an evil one. The evil one said, ‘A beautiful girl with an hourglass figure is in love with you; what do you intend to do about it?’ The good one answered, ‘Don’t you listen to him, your wife is at home waiting for you, and she loves you.’ ” Unfortunately, the Thomas-Tita affair is also marred by a full chapter of Thomas explaining to his half brother Kim the history and successful growing techniques of cocoa trees. Like Bo’s Les Mis rant, it ends with Kim saying: “Interesting. We learn something every day. I wasn’t aware of that.” The story does include several well-written sex scenes, including the central tryst between virginal Tita and Thomas in a Havana hotel and another between Tita and Kim on the floor of his Miami mansion. These steamy, lengthy scenes aren’t for the faint of heart.
Other than its lurid sex scenes, a sometimes hard-to-follow read that’s easy to forget.