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The Hacienda: My Venezuelan Years

3.86  ·  Rating Details  ·  383 Ratings  ·  45 Reviews
Now in paperback, Lisa St. Aubin de Teran's remarkable and haunting memoir of her years on a vast sugar plantation, deep in Venezuela. 'Astonishing' - Elle
Paperback, 342 pages
Published April 2nd 1998 by Virago Books (first published 1997)
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Eve
Jun 10, 2015 Eve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, read-2015
"Over and over again before I ever went there, I heard the name 'La Hacienda'. It was a place where sugar-cane grew in unimaginable abundance and avocado pears that dwarfed all others. It was a place without any clear dimensions: a frontierless tract of land steeped in history..."

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With these words, Terán begins her poetic memoir of the seven years she spent on the generations old Venezuelan hacienda she inherited upon marrying her husband. To say that this book was eye-opening is an understatemen
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John
May 10, 2014 John rated it it was amazing
I declare an interest. I own a farm in Latin America. It is much smaller than the one of which this author became the Doña for several years. Also, I came to my farm late in life, whereas when she came to hers when she was teenager. Sometimes, when I walk the few hundred yards to the back of my land and look across the valley, I think of her doing the same in the early 1970s. The biggest difference is that when she did so, everything that she could see belonged to her (or, more accurately, the h ...more
Maggie Roessler
Enchanted.

I read this while living in rural Ghana and it was fascinating to see the similarities between these rural undeveloped (insert pc term here) villages, despite their major geographic differences.

The text struck a good balance between calm and lively, but I read it pretty quickly. After more time, I might well have gotten bored. Although maybe not. While the details and anecdotes can seem unconnected and perhaps monotonous, they manage to convey (very subtly) Lisa's journey from a clue
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Ashley Dong
I enjoyed her story and it was sad at points and I cant believe some of the things she had to endure as a wife and even as a mother. I didn't care for the way she wrote, like she left out certain details then later on in the book went back to the time we had already gone through. I also didn't care for the ending I would have liked to have known what became of her husband and how she actually got him to sign the papers.
John Gurney
Apr 01, 2014 John Gurney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This memoir is so unexpected it reads like fiction. Teenage Englishwoman meets cash poor/land rich Venezuelan grandee, marries him and in the 1970s, moves to the isolated, rural hacienda that's been in his family for centuries. The hacienda is crumbling and Lisa St. Aubin de Teran plunges into a complex social situation, formed by a half millennium of tradition. Though she wants to befriend and help la gente, the people, of the gigantic property, they defer to her, are terrified of her, the new ...more
Susan
Feb 29, 2016 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a gripping and beautifully written memoir by an Englishwoman who at 17 married a Venezuelan aristocrat (who ultimately turned out to be very mentally disturbed) and went to live on his planation, or "hacienda." The beginning of the book was hard for me, as Teran was terribly passive, as well as young and inexperienced, but when I looked at it as the story of a young woman who discovers her powers gradually and painfully, rather than as the story of a Western woman submitting to neglect a ...more
Stephanie
Jul 09, 2013 Stephanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this as someone who had lived in Caracas, Venezuela in 1983, working for an English -language daily. Though I don't generally like memoirs, this one had a fascinating ring of authenticity. The author married a man more than twice her age, went to Venezuela from England and then was alternatingly abandoned or terrorized by his psychotic rages when he returned to his enormous sugar plantation. She had a child, held out for seven years, ruined her health, but learned to manage the estate, cu ...more
Stephen Castley
Sep 13, 2015 Stephen Castley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a most interesting memoir, written in a strange but entertaining style. In the early pages, I was tempted to put it down, but then it caught me and I kept on reading, enjoying the authors style. Lisa St. Aubin de Teran incorporates letters to her mother throughout the book and this really works and pushes the story along. Many memoirs entice the reader to visit new destinations showcased in the book. Lisa showcases Venezuela in the 70s and I am not tempted to visit.
Xan Asher
Jan 27, 2014 Xan Asher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If Lisa St Aubin de Teran had not become a novelist, she could simply have written autobiographies in which her truth is more extraordinary than most fiction. Ages back I read a book of hers (Memoirs Of A Train Addict?) which is a must for anyone who loves travel. The Hacienda is a wonderful evocation of time, place and strength and independence being built. Excellent reading.
Pamela Shore
Sep 09, 2015 Pamela Shore rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love just about everything Lisa writes. I have been a fan for many years and now an email friend-hurray. She is an amazing story teller.
Sarah smith gumataotao
I had some serious issues with this book but the story is fascinating. The author leaves out WAY too many details which I found very disappointing. I really wanted to know more. I needed more dots to be connected, the stitch to be tighter. That being said, it's a crazy story, and I like crazy stories.
Heather
Very interesting book and well-written, but flawed. It is a memoir so I guess she can write about what she wants, but she is so oblique about some of the happenings and occurrences (e.g., domestic violence) that I was left wondering what happened. And then she ends the book and you wonder what happened to the rest of her life. As well, she says that everyone in the sphere of Venezuelan society that she knows is nasty and vicious, yet at the same time she seems to have a bunch of friends -- how d ...more
Joan
Dec 23, 2014 Joan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book....really feel in love in and with it. Read it decades ago and need to reread.
Mereke
Jun 20, 2008 Mereke rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A memoir in which the writer does not allow you to know much about herself as a person and is generally fairly derogatory with respect to all the people around her. She's a fool to go to Venezuela, a fool to stay and a fool to tell us about it and expect us not to wonder what in the heck she was thinking when she married a man she didn't really care about one or another in the first place. I didn't find it enlightening or particularly interesting.
Sara
May 25, 2012 Sara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I hardly ever read books based in Latin America. I came across this used & since I enjoy memoirs I thought I'd give it a try. It took about 3 or 4 chapters for it to engage me. This author was quickly married to a man she barely knew, moved to his family's plantation as the matriarch, and was abandoned by him in the wild of the plantation. It is a very eccentric book, but interesting.
Malissa Cadwallader
Great memoir about a British woman who marries a Venezuelan plantation owner. The husband turns out to be a lunatic who nearly kills her, but her experience living on the plantation is a great adventure and provides insight about the world of working-class peasants in Venezuela. Book starts to drag toward the middle - but overall, I totally recommend this one...
Tracy
Sep 10, 2012 Tracy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It is an interesting memoir for the various characters encountered and the incidents that befell the author. The writing is altogether lacking in creativity and it reads like a journal. The description of the culture and behavior of the people in this rural area of Venezuela is interesting but otherwise I found the storytelling too disappointing.
Eniko
Aug 15, 2011 Eniko rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I much enjoyed reading this book, especially after reading Swallowing Stones by the same author. The Hacienda tells the tales of an English girl who married a Venezuelan revolutionary at the tender age of 17, and went to live on his hacienda among the "gente rural". It is delightful as it is horrifying at times, but altogether beautifully written.
Marghimarkham
Jul 21, 2009 Marghimarkham added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
I loved this book. Could not put it down. It is a very dramatic and informative picture of life on a neglected plantation in South America and one woman's attempts to improve the situation of all living thre.
Lisa St Aubin de Teran has led a fascinating life and is a terific writer.
Sheila
Mar 16, 2012 Sheila rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rich with characters you love, hate and pity. An emotional-packed atmospheric visit to a dangerous, beautiful environment filled the people who survive or die without fanfare.
I enjoyed the author's detailed descriptions of her harrowing life at the Hacienda. A great memoir.
cessie
Jan 29, 2009 cessie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love her! She has a great style and stories to tell. This book is about her time in Venezuela where she stayed at the hacienda of her husband for a couple of years.

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Stephanie Brook
Although I related in some ways to the main character, I felt that she was far too passive and her personality frustrated me to no end. I did not have a hard time finishing the book, but I was not pleased with the outcome when I did reach the finish line.
Liddy Barlow
Mar 07, 2008 Liddy Barlow rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, 1999
She lived an almost unbelievable life and certainly did things an average person would not have done -- marry a man who didn't speak English, etc. But she behaved admirably at the hacienda, and captured its landscape and people so well I dreamed of them.
Mary Mccullough
Apr 17, 2014 Mary Mccullough rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves:
Not sure. Her style of writing seemed very detached and I didn't get invested in any character. She seemed so passive it was hardly credible. She leaves it unfinished in my opinion. Would have liked to find out what happens at the end.
Rachel
Mar 31, 2008 Rachel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A young English woman's perspective on Venezuelan hacienda culture. Quirky anecdotes and very interesting observations on lifestyle of her new home, especially interesting to read while abroad in a South American country.
Audreyjackson
Aug 23, 2013 Audreyjackson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book languished on a shelf for a long time at last I picked it up and never put it down again. it is so real and real with the time for any woman trying to survive then. I was caught up in this book.
Beverly
Feb 08, 2016 Beverly rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Doesn't inspire me to visit Venezuela.
Jean
The sort of writing where the places seem real in your head long after you finish the book. Crazy privileged impoverished highly colored wise things...
follow up with author's Valley in Italy book.
Linda
Feb 01, 2008 Linda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
this biography gives truth to the statement - life is indeed stranger than fiction. Surviving an eccentric British upbringing, marriage and abandonment on a wild plantation in S. America
Adrienne
Jan 09, 2010 Adrienne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written. Despite the instability of her marriage and the hardships of her time in Venezuela you can't help but wish to see and experience life on la hacienda for yourself!
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Lisa St. Aubin de Terán was born Lisa Rynveld in South London. She attended the James Allen's Girls' School. She married a Venezuelan landowner, Jaime Terán in 1971, at the age of 17, and became a farmer of sugar cane, avocados, pears, and sheep from 1972-1978.

Her second husband was the Scottish poet and novelist George MacBeth. After the marriage failed, she married painter Robbie Duff Scott and
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