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Our Lives Are the Rivers: A Novel
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Our Lives Are the Rivers: A Novel

3.87  ·  Rating Details ·  176 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
Based on actual events, this sweeping novel tells the life story of a woman who was willing to risk it all for her country and her lover—in whose legacy lies the history of an entire continent.

Our Lives Are the Rivers tells the story of beautiful young freedom fighter Manuela Sáenz, and the epic tale of her long love affair with liberator Simón Bolívar. A novel of intoxica
Paperback, 384 pages
Published February 20th 2007 by Harper Perennial (first published February 28th 2006)
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Doña Manuela Sáenz was an illegitimate daughter of a Spanish nobleman who left her husband and became the lover and supporter of Simón Bolívar. She was very much involved in his struggle for independence from Spain, rode beside him in battle and earned the title of "Libertadora del Libertador" when she helped him to escape mutinous officers plotting his death. History tells us that Manuela Saenz lived an amazing life and accomplished great things, and her story has plenty of potential for a powe ...more
Evelina A.
An illegitimate child of a well-to-do, unmarried woman from a respectable family, Manuela is an outcast of society. The strictures of her upbringing and her romantic, rebellious nature lead her to embrace the revolution and then the hero of the revolution himself, Simon Bolivar. The rest is history.

Told in the first person by Manuela and her two slave women, Natan and Jonotas, the narrative of the two slaves do more to address the reality of war and revolution than do Manuela's idealogical rheto
Overall, the author of this book took an interesting premise and an interesting real woman and turned them into a dreadful novel. I don't think I have rolled my eyes or yelled at a book this often in quite some time. The tone of the book felt too modern for a book supposedly set in the early 1800s. Manuela did not feel genuine to me. The times when the author tried to convey what Manuela may have been thinking felt forced and from a point of view of a man's belief of what a woman thinks.

The dia
Tara Chevrestt
Wow. A very good book. This is a historical novel about Simon Bolivar, the "Liberator" and the woman he loved, Manuela Saenz, "liberatadora del libertador," the liberator of the liberator. Bolivar was known as a dictator. His goal was to liberate South America from Spanish rule and unite the countries into one country: Gran Colombia.

The book begins with a young Manuela. She is a bastard and her deceased mother's family treats her as one. She is sent to a convent for schooling where her and her
Melissa McCauley
Jan 06, 2015 Melissa McCauley rated it liked it
I had never heard of Manuela Saenz before picking up this book. Her story is fascinating: The illegitimate daughter of a wealthy Peruvian mother and an already-married Spanish father, she survived convent school, social scandal, and a bad marriage to become the mistress of Simon Bolivar, the liberator of South America. Unfortunately, he predeceased her, she was cheated out of her inheritance, and Manuela ended her years in poverty and was buried anonymously in a mass grave for plague victims.

Posh Able Paula
Jan 15, 2012 Posh Able Paula rated it really liked it
From the book:

Our lives are the rivers that flow into the seat of Death. At sunrise tomorrow, night’s darkness would be dispelled for another day. But not or me. Not for me. Not for as long as I lived and remembered. Ahead of me, in a future full of tomorrows, I saw nothing but an unremitting darkness no moon, no starts. Yet the oncoming darkness did not fighter me, because I knew it would never life, would never changed, would never trick me with a new beginning in which there might blossom ag
Gabriela Bauchwitz
Jan 19, 2015 Gabriela Bauchwitz rated it it was amazing
A passionate story of the life of Manuela Saenz who won her place in history as the great love of South America's liberator: Simon Bolivar.

This book is one of my favorites because it's so rash and passionate. It makes me not only believe in love, but to crave a love so epic and realistic as the one that the main characters share. It is so meaningful to me because Manuela Saenz has such a powerful voice as a women in that era (1822) not only in a small society, but in the history of The Andes. T
Dec 24, 2015 Yaaresse marked it as abandoned-dnf  ·  review of another edition
This book failed my Forty-nine page rule in spades. (That little rule is saving me a lot of time and money.)

This reads like Barbara Cartland and Phillipa Gregory decided to have a throw-down, and neither brought their game face. The romance part is overwrought and cliche; the historical fiction part never finds its footing. I think historical fiction should be a melding of history and fiction in such a way the writer convinces us that his/her version is just as viable as the factual history. Th
Mar 19, 2013 Susan rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical
Manuela Saenz really was Bolivar's mistress, and really lived a life like this book describes. The author has brought her and her times to life, sometimes painfully, always vividly. She took a difficult path, illuminated first by her devotion to the ideals of the Bolivarian revolution, then by her choice to engage in it fully. In the end she devotes herself to Bolivar himself -- the man and the political path. His downfall is her own.
An important aspect of the story is that of the two slaves sh
Oct 05, 2012 Deana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tertulia
Los libros históricos son mis favoritos... y sobre todos los libros que rinden honor o deshonor a las mujeres que, aunque no figuran en los libros de historia, sabemos que tuvieron un papel decisivo.

Como con cada libro histórico, me impresiona la crueldad con que los eres humanos se han tratado por conquistarse, destruírse o ganar el poder. Este libro no es excepción. La independencia de los países latineamericanos también fue una lucha cruel. Aunque no me gustó el papel de esta mujer en la hist
Jan 30, 2012 Meg rated it liked it
Shelves: history, fiction
This felt more like a novelistic retelling of history, than a "novel" per se. I enjoyed it but it didn't quite measure up as a story. I wished the narratives of Manuela's slaves had been filled out more - the narratives didn't really change much about how we saw the main character, and the strands of their stories were often dropped ((view spoiler) ...more
Sep 09, 2009 Rebecca rated it it was ok
I randomnly chose this book from the library because of all reasons, I loved the cover. It was an interesting read about South American history, Simon Bolivar and his lover. I enjoyed learning about this place and time in history and reading about a strong woman character, but the novel itself was very monotonous. The descriptions of the different towns in Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, etc. did make me want to travel to see them for myself.
Meg - A Bookish Affair
The book was a fictionalized novel about Manuela Saenz, the famous mistress of Simon Bolivar, El Liberador of South America. I am fascinated with South America and found it very interesting to see the liberation from the perspective of women. The author definitely focuses much more on the love affair between Bolivar and Saenz than the actual liberation.
Jaime Manrique da al lector un punto de vista muy diferente a Simón Bolívar y Manuela Sáenz que existe en los libros de historia. Pero a pesar de todo, la narrativa falló en capturar la imaginación del lector. Se clasifica como una novela pero se leía a veces como un texto académico. Finalmente la traducción al español no es muy bien hecho.
Nov 05, 2007 Susan rated it really liked it
A fictionalized account of the life of Manuela Saenz, the great love of Simon Bolivar. I loved it and found her and the history of her life fascinating. She had spunk and wit and the capacity for great passion and courage. These things both brought her great joy and great sorrow. She certainly wasn't one to take the easy way.
Oct 31, 2010 Jeana rated it it was ok
Shelves: peru-trip
Disappointing. Although one can tell that the author did extensive research, I thought that the main character was poorly developed. She seemed shallow and unconvincing. And what was with that scene where the catholic school girls learn to kiss by practicing on each other? How cheesy! I don't see how other readers were so entertained. Despite heroics, this book was dull. :(
Sep 29, 2013 Irene rated it really liked it
Couldn't put this book down. Gave me a better insight into the lives of women in South America during their struggle for independence from Spain. Loved the house slave's perspective in this book. Well written. Highly recommend this novel.
Jun 02, 2008 Melissa rated it really liked it
I don't usually read historical fiction, but I really enjoyed this book. I was immediately drawn into the story of Manuela Saenz, the woman who had a lifelong love affair with Simon Bolivar. It's a great summer read.
Tiffany Rainey
May 18, 2009 Tiffany Rainey rated it it was amazing
Reviewed this for Hispanic magazine years ago and it's one of my favorites. I'm big on female heroines, ill-fated love affairs, and great nation building so it was right up my alley. Definitely underrated. Poetic prose is a plus.
Maya Lang
May 01, 2008 Maya Lang rated it it was amazing
Amazing! Historical and epic, but a total page-turner - I couldn't imagine someone not loving this book.
Dec 17, 2008 Moira rated it really liked it
Very plain narrative, but a beautiful ending. Interesting if you are interested in 19th century South American history.
Jun 20, 2009 Nimra rated it really liked it
Quite an interesting depiction of South American revolutionist, Bolivar and the role his lover Manuela Sanchez played in creating Gran Colombia.
Feb 15, 2009 Loan rated it it was amazing
this is an amazing,captivated historical book based on three female perspective.Once you read it you'll love it.
Sep 07, 2011 Annamaria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Interesante ver la vida del libertador Simon Bolivar desde la perspectiva de Manuelita...

Detalles interesantes de lo que en algún momento fué nuestra querida Bogotá (politicamente).
Denise rated it really liked it
Dec 29, 2010
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Cristopher Carter rated it really liked it
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Shellie rated it it was ok
Nov 25, 2012
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Jan 24, 2013
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Jaime Manrique (16 June 1949 - ) Colombian American author, poet, and journalist.
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