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La casa de la laguna: (The House on the Lagoon - Spanish-language edition)

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  808 Ratings  ·  53 Reviews
Nominated for the 1995 National Book Award, La casa de la laguna (The House on the Lagoon) is the story of Isabel Monfort and her husband Quintin Mendizabal—the history of a family whose secrets, conflicts and private mythologies add up to the larger story of a nation: Puerto Rico.
Paperback, 432 pages
Published July 1st 1997 by Vintage Espanol (first published 1995)
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Aug 28, 2012 Rachel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: afro-Caribbean enthusiasts
This book is not only beautiful, it is surprisingly beautiful. As touching and poetic as Maya Angelou's I know why the caged bird sings, and more exotic. It is almost biblical in it's epic telling of this family's journey. Read it! The prologue begins "Before I ever loved a woman, I wagered my heart on chance and violence won it over."
Feb 08, 2012 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone

I belong to four reading groups, all of which meet in real time. Because I read so much, I am always dying for people to discuss books with, but reading group picks are an unpredictable mix. What a treat it is then to read a great book I might otherwise have missed if it weren't for those reading groups.

The House on the Lagoon is historical fiction set in Puerto Rico; Rosario Ferre is a Puerto Rican writer, poet and essayist. She writes in both Spanish and English, self-translating her books. Th
Angela M
Thanks to Open Road Integrated Media and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book.

I don't know how much of this story is true to history, but when reading this I certainly felt as if it was the history of Puerto Rico depicted by the story of these people .We see the good, the bad and (I know cliché) but the very ugly things too, about Quintin's and Isabel's families covering over seven decades.

The au
Alexis Vélez
Jul 10, 2012 Alexis Vélez rated it it was amazing
Espectacular, buenísima, excelente, épica. Bien acertado lo que he visto en varias críticas sobre la comparación de la misma con Cien años de Soledad, mi versión hasta tiene un árbol genealógico impreso en las primeras páginas que es super útil para no perderse en la maraña familiar de la historia. La historia es un tanto trágica y te deja muchas veces boquiabierto con las cosas que le ocurren a ésta familia, pero además es una rica narración de casi un siglo de historia puertorriqueña bien docu ...more
Sep 30, 2016 Alesa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This family saga is a terrific introduction to Puerto Rican history and culture. It follows many generations of a single family, and we learn about politics, economics, prejudice, social mobility and women's issues.

However, I didn't finish it, and this was (I think) due to reading it in Kindle format. I found it hard to keep track of all the characters through the generations. There was a family tree at the beginning of the book, but it was too small to read on the Kindle. Plus, I couldn't keep
Jun 23, 2009 Ryl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
"Between the writing and the reading of a text, things change, the world goes round, marriages and love affairs are made and unmade. Wasn't all storytelling, in a sense, like that?... Each chapter is like a letter to the reader; its meaning isn't completed until it is read by someone."

So Isabel says to her husband, and so is The House on the Lagoon. The novel is generational story of Isabel's and her husband's families, but it's also a game of tug-of-war between the two of them that escalates m
Marie Hew
Enjoyable multi-generational tale about a well-to-do family from Puerto Rico that spans a century of familial secrets, drama, social climbing and the desperate need to protect the reputation of their supposedly prominent clan. I really liked how Ferré talks to the reader through the two narrators of the novel and revealing the internal dialogue that each of them have about one another. Literary elements aside, I liked this book because it puts PR in a historical context that most mainlanders kno ...more
May 03, 2008 Maggie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
a look at the divisions among the elite in puerto rico about the future of the island. should it remain a commonwealth, become a state or become it's own nation? this is the question addressed throughout the story of three generations of a wealthy puerto rican family. the story also gives rise to other thoughts and questions on class as well as race.
the story is written as being narrated through authorship by isabel, the main character, but also gives the very different point of view of her hus
Sep 28, 2011 Ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having visited Ponce and San Juan, I enjoyed learning about the people and the culture. In my opinion, this story is about the rights of women, and the female characters are strong women. The grandmother who encourages the mother to abort her pregnancy so that she is not bogged down. Then Isobel who decides to write a novel only to have her husband violate her privacy to read it secretly. The book gave more insight to the debate on the island about what their relationship to the United States sh ...more
Joann Dietch
Apr 30, 2010 Joann Dietch added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in quality written family sagas based in Puerto Rico.
Wonderful book which I actually had to order through Barnes and Noble. Interesting all local libraries had only picked up the subsequentally written books after the fame of this one. I really enjoy the genre of the family saga. I believe this genre is the best form of complete character development because nothing is more revealing about ourselves than our family histories.
Feb 24, 2008 Katie rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who likes a good story, interested in Latin American culture & history
The English version is called "The House on the Lagoon" and it was originally written in English although she's Puerto Rican and lots of her work is in Spanish. I love Ferre's combination of great storytelling, colorful prose and history and politics of Puerto Rico. I loved this book.
Jul 20, 2016 Wittch rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book follows the fortunes of a family caught up in the politics of Puerto Rico in a deeply moving way. The contrast between the haves and have nots, the racial underpinnings, of women trying to be against a stultifying patriarchy was skillfully rendered.
Vaness M.
Nov 05, 2016 Vaness M. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although a bit slow at times, I greatly enjoyed reading this book. For starters, it gave me historical insights that I didn't get in my school years in Puerto Rico. It also let me know more of a society that, thankfully, I never got to experience as a child. The racism and political turmoil that Ferré describes, those were issues that were shielded from me growing up, although I did get to hear about them as an adult. My parents told me my dad's family were opposed to him, of White, European des ...more
Jan 14, 2017 Tanya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is long. Really long. I would have rated it a little lower if it wasn't for all the Puerto Rican history. I found that fascinating. When the story stays focused on the narrator's immediate family, parents and in laws, it's great. When she goes on long detours about extended family and random people, I would lose interest and get confused. There are so many characters in this book, it's impossible to keep them all straight without the family tree in the beginning. However, the book is s ...more
Stacie (BTR)
Did not finish. I read (maybe) one fifth. More and more, I am becoming comfortable with abandoning unfinished books if I'm just not getting any value out of it. This read like several, long, fictional Wikipedia entries--not like a novel. I found there to be a lack of plot, rhythm, character development, etc.
Dec 20, 2016 Jenny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book, but would have loved more multi-perspective ---I felt teased by the husband's short, somewhat predictable interjections. I love it when I find out the author may be lying...
Stephanie (That's What She Read)
This book was made for me! A Puerto-Rican family saga with great characters, magical realism, and beautiful writing
Maria Beltrami
Perhaps it will seem incredible, but before I read this book, for me Porto Rico was just a name associated with a vague geographical indication (the Antilles). I knew nothing of his status as a member of the American Commonwealth, being the Unites States a nation to which Puerto Rico is linked by a relationship of love / hate, nor of its complicated anthropological mix.
The House on the Lagoon is the story of a couple who loves hating so much, or hate loving; two very different people who, instea
Isabel Monfort, married to Quintin Mendizabal, intended to write the story of the Mendizabals and the Monforts, to account the history behind each generation. But somewhere along the way, it turned into something else, a novel about freedom from the clutching hands of power whether it be political and familial.

In this saga of a wealthy Puerto Rican family, secrets go abound with riches and status. Beginning with Buenaventura Mendizabal’s arrival to the island in the early twentieth century as a
Aug 01, 2016 Osvaldo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: latino-lit
I enjoyed this book. I love a multi-generational narrative and the conceit of a wife writing her (and her husband's) family history as a kind of open secret, and her husband reading it nightly and adding his own dissenting perspective on events and her writing style is brilliant. I just wish Ferré had been more experimental - had actually included elisions and marginalia, for example.

The most troublesome part of the book for me was the easy racism of its characters and the Puerto Rican society i
Apr 24, 2016 Mirachil27 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ghosts floating through my history

In the interest of full disclosure, my mother was born in Puerto Rico, and her family went back to the 1800's just like the family in this book. I saw the ghosts of many of the characters and whispers of the themes that ran through my mother's family told so clearly in Ferre's words. A history such as this comes down to my generation, the generation of Manuel's never-born children, as a mixture of sepia prints of ladies in white linen dresses and gentlemen in bo
Karen Sweeney
Nov 03, 2015 Karen Sweeney rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This was basically half soap opera & half history lesson about Puerto Rico. I was expecting something more from this novel based on all the praise and on its nomination for a Natl. Book Award. Unfortunately, it didn't get there for me.

This is a multigenerational saga but most of the characters are never fleshed out. As is often the case with soap operas, the characters' personalities change to accommodate plot developments so you never get a truly three dimensional character. The most inter
Sandra Saltzer-duzak
It was easy to get swept into the current of this book. Sometimes fantastical, but always poetic.
At its heart, it describes the struggles in Puerto Rico's identity with the U.S. through generations of characters in two principal families. This struggle manifests itself in the very different views between the men and women. The tension between art and history is also brought in to play and divides the two principal characters - husband and wife - to the point of no return. The author weaves the
Sep 18, 2015 Jeanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this fictional family saga, Ferre cleverly "interprets the facts" with different voices, so the reader is exposed to multiple points of view as to statehood vs independence, among other issues.
The author's father, Luis Ferre, became the third governor of Puerto Rico (1969-1973) and when her mother died, Rosario assumed the role of First Lady.
I found it interesting that the book I checked out of our local library was an autographed copy, perhaps donated by a patron some 20 years ago? Well wort
Maritza Buendia
Nov 27, 2014 Maritza Buendia rated it really liked it
Extraordinaria historia de la saga de una familia en Puerto Rico. Isabel Monfort escribe la crónica de su familia y de su vida con Quintín. Una novela con contenido histórico donde el lector vive las intrigas familiares, la política de la isla, la lucha de clases y de sus mujeres y la extraordinaria idiosincrasia y colorido de los personajes de descendencia africana y española. Una narrativa rica con vívidas descripciones de la belleza natural y el esplendor de la isla.
Trinity School Summer Reading
An historical novel that traces the stories of multiple generations of the Monfort family in Puerto Rico (along with the history and politics of the island itself). Read about the immigrants, slaves, and women who learn to have subtle powers in a male-dominated time…many adventures and a beautifully-written story.
Jul 16, 2015 Rosemary rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible
Really bad in the beginning, but I enjoyed the last third. After the first few chapters I listened to it on audible on 1.75 speed which really helped. I felt like it took a long time to develop in to a cohesive story, but enjoyed the history of Puerto Rico. If it wasn't for a book group discussion I would have put it down early, but actually sort of glad I finished it.
I did learn some things about the history of Puerto Rico that I hadn't thought about before. For example, their relasionship with the US, the clashes between those who wanted statehood and those who wanted independence. However, I got tired of the characters as it went along. I will admit I had to keep returning to the page in the front with the famly tree to remember who they all were.
Aug 28, 2008 Lauren rated it it was amazing
It's one of the most well-written books I've ever read (in any language). Ferre is Puerto Rican, and it also gives you a sense of the different views Puerto Ricans have of their own social and political situation. Oh yeah, and it's kick-ass feminist!
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Rosario Ferré was born in Puerto Rico, where her father served as governor. She was best known for her novels and short stories. In 1992, Ferré was awarded the Liberatur Prix award at the Frankfurt Book Fair for the German translation of her novel Sweet Diamond Dust. She was a finalist for the National Book Award for her novel The House on the Lagoon in 1995.
More about Rosario Ferré...

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