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Prospero's Daughter: A Novel

3.55 of 5 stars 3.55  ·  rating details  ·  212 ratings  ·  36 reviews
A spellbinding new novel from acclaimed author Elizabeth Nunez, Prospero’s Daughter is a brilliantly conceived retelling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest set on a lush Caribbean island during the height of tensions between the native population and British colonists. Addressing questions of race, class, and power, it is first and foremost the story of a boy and a girl who come...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published September 12th 2006 by Ballantine Books (first published February 28th 2006)
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Mocha Girl
n Elizabeth Nunez's Prospero's Daughter, the exploits of its key characters (Dr. Peter Gardner, Carlos, Virginia, and Ariana) are intrinsically linked to key characters (Prospero, Caliban, Miranda, and Ariel respectively) and themes inspired by Shakespeare's The Tempest. Both works occur on an island, both explore the principles of freedom, forgiveness and rebirth but Nunez modernizes the classic tale by adding contemporary flavors of racism, classism, colorism and domination - legacies of Europ...more
B. Morrison
As the title declares, this novel retells the story of The Tempest. Set in 1961 on Trinidad and the small island of Chacachacare off its coast, Prospero’s Daughter portrays the intersection of a handful of lives as England’s empire withdraws. Assistant commissioner, John Mumsford, has come to Trinidad because as a white man and an Englishman he can live the life of a lord that his middle-class birth could not provide at home. Change is in the air, though, with calls for independence, and Mumsfor...more
Lorraine
Jan 08, 2011 Lorraine rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Shakespeare fans
Recommended to Lorraine by: Randomly picked off the Library shelf
The Tempest will never be the same now that I've read this book. Prospero's Daughter is an updated telling of Shakespeare's classic, set in Trinidad when it was a colony of the British. The book spells out the connections between this one and Shakespeare's, but it helps to know the Bard's tale to get the full effect of what this book is saying. Or, perhaps reading this book helps get the full effect what the Bard says. Colonialism and the brazen racism that went with it is found on every page in...more
Netizen
Pros:

-Interesting interpretation of The Tempest
-Beautiful prose
-Worth reading just for the wonderfully painted picture of the Caribbean going through the decolonization process.
-Worth reading if you're looking for a book on colonization.
-Story was well-paced and it's quite easy to read in a few sittings.

Cons:

-I didn't particularly like Nunez's choices on which plot points in the Tempest to change to her fitting in the story. Some of which irked me such as Carlos teaching Virginia to read when it...more
Alyssa Archambo
This title got my attention right away because of its link with Shakespeare. It's supposed to be a modern retelling of The Tempest, and I was interested in seeing what Nunez would do with that story. Unfortunately, I don't think it's a successful retelling.

Prospero's Daughter is about an orphan named Carlos who lives in the Caribbean. Peter, who has escaped England with his small daughter to avoid a scandal, steals Carlos's home and forces Carlos and another native woman to work as his servants....more
Dana
In this retelling of William Shakespeare's play "The Tempest", Elizabeth Nunez not only pays homage to the writer, but manages to captivate her readers with good old fashion storytelling.

Let it be known, I am not a fan of Shakespeare. I've read more than my fair share of his work and can appreciate what he's done for the genera and his fame, but he is not someone that I sit back and read for fun. Furthermore, I felt that the Tempest was his weakest play by far. Nunez, however, takes the few thin...more
Yanira
I 100% recommend this novel. If you have read The Tempest than this is the next step.

Pros:
Nunez' writing is lyrical. The way she describes Trinidad is magical. The vivid images are sometimes harsh, but meant to confront you. Everything in this novel is meant to confront the reader. If the novel bothers the reader than Nunez did her job. The themes of race, incest, violence, and hate are all harshly depicted and torn apart (as they should be).

This book should be part of a college curriculum. Th...more
V. Katzovitz
To say that the message of this novel is "heavy-handed" would be a gross understatement. One can write about colonialism and its effects without demonizing an entire race and reducing the cast to stereotypes. Nunez, however, does not. Nearly all of the "white" characters in the novel are caricatures, nothing more than the stereotypical "evil oppressor" sort. Even Carlos, the mixed-race protagonist, falls flat as a character; he basically has no flaws.

This lack of subtlety and finesse extends to...more
Sarah
I'd have to say, when it comes to books I was "forced" to read for class, this is definitely one of the best. I think the fact that I've recently read the Tempest (and I'm also semi-familiar with other works by Shakespeare) added to my enjoyment. That aside, I actually liked this more than the Tempest. The love story, the race issues, everything about it was just so much more emotional and meaningful to me. Be that because of the style or writing or just the story itself, I really enjoyed this....more
Shirma
It is rare that I've felt this much pride to know that I've shared similar experiences with characters in a novel. Elizabeth Nunez is brilliant in her ability to evoke such strong emotions for the most ordinary experiences. "My fingers are yellowed with mango pulp; the skin around my mouth is wet & sticky. Mango peel falls in a basin at my feet. I reach for another. I tear away the skin with the edge of my teeth. I do not use a knife. Carlos laughs. 'Like a true Trini,' he says to me. A true...more
Meaghan E
Loved this. I'm convinced Nunez has created a new genre - a hybrid of adaptation and rewrite. For the purposes of the themes in this book, I'll call it the Freckled Genre. I think she strays from the story of The Tempest just enough to create her own story, and yet still stays true to the relationships and lessons of Shakespeare's final comedy. I love the new setting of Trinidad and the tropical utopia that creates an illusion of paradise. Slightly disturbing in places, but delightfully literary...more
sdw
This book was an enjoyable take on Shakespeare's The Tempest set in Trinidad.

I really don't like books that suggest the solution to racism can be found in interracial love. Such a literary trope ignores too deeply the economic and institutional foundations of racism. So it bothers me a bit that the book weds colonialism into this false happy ending. Heterosexual interracial romance will not actually solve all the world's ills. But as an interpretation of The Tempest that engages the interse...more
Sara
This is one amazing piece of work. I just finished reading it today. I was reading it for a Comparative Literature assignment, and it has to be one of my favorites out of this four books we've read this term.

If you are a Shakespeare nerd like me, you will have a ball picking out the lines from his various plays. The characters are well developed and believable. Nunez does a fantastic job in a painting the world of Trinidad. Honestly one of the best books I've read this year!
Sarah
I tend to enjoy books that emerge from other books or those based on real events/people. SInce The Tempest is my favorite Shakespeare play, I was really excited to see that this novel is a retelling of the play set in Trinidad in the sixties. It's a good read, with some really imaginative use of language and details from the play. Doesn't come close to classics like Wide Saragasso Sea (Jane Eyre) or A Thousand Acres(King Lear).
Tahni
This was one of the best books I've read recently. The writing is stunning, the story is wonderfully woven, and, most importantly, it's an important story which needs telling. The issues of racism, discrimination, fear and hatred, and the complexities of abusive relationships are relevant and difficult subjects with Nunez handled with a remarkably blunt grace. Even better - she did it without being preachy.
Gina Schwartz
Even though I have never read the tempest. I really enjoyed this novel. I couldn't put it down.
Christina A.
Moving both because of its beautiful descriptions of Trinidadian life, and its cutting consideration of race relations. The Tempest was intended as commentary on England's colonization of the Caribbean, and Prospero's Daughter continues that criticism in a very constructive way.

Thoughtful, but done so craftily you won't realize how many questions Nunez raises until you're hooked.
Miss Trini
Awesome!!! I loved how she took this English story from Shakespeare's play "The Tempest" & gave it a totally Caribbean flavor...people who grew up in the Caribbean will definitely relate to the story of race, class, social stratification and growing up within the confines of the colonial era. This was my first time reading Nunez - I look forward to reading more of her work...
Fred Daly
Inspired by "The Tempest," it's more interesting than actually good. It's set around 1960 in Trinidad. The Prospero figure is the villain, and becomes more villainous with each page. Caliban, Ariel, and Miranda are all his victims. The book could use some editing; I felt that I was being pounded repeatedly on the head with fairly mundane ideas about racial attitudes.
Jenny
Doesn't end the same way The Tempest does (much happier ending!), and I wish there had been a little more explanation, e.g. of the father's "magic" and of the insinuation that Virginia isn't really his biological daughter. Overall though, I did like it, especially once I got past the first section, where Mumford is the narrator.
Agnes Duncan
Great great novel.Elizabeth truely depicted the culture of the caribbean people then and even now with their still being some racial barriors especially on race and class...this book is simply refreshing,it should be in the home of every caribbean family.What a great power this thing call "Love"is.
K.C.
Sep 23, 2007 K.C. rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Literary Fiction Lovers
I have to say, I went in really excited about this book and came out underwhelmed. It's ambitious and well written but somehow boring. And also, the structure is a bit all over the place. I am going to read her Bruised Habiscus. Hopefully that will be better.
Cheryl
I finished it wanting to know if the author would surprise me. Alas, I found too much predictability and consequently a lack of depth for what could have been a pithy, timeless, and relevant tale.
Bettye Rainwater
Uhm. It took me awhile to warm up to it...it was a little melodramatic in spots, I think...but overall I did like the story. Wish I could give it 2.75 stars. 3 is a little strong.
hagar
A good read, very atmospheric and just pulls you along. The story of a forbidden love , the realities of colonialism in the West Indies, and discovering what matters most.
Beth
Inspired by Wm. Shakespeare's "The Tempest." Interesting read, dark and mysterious. Told in three sections by three different characters. Effective.
Karen
A wonderful retelling of The Tempest, yes, but also a window into European colonization methods played out in one home, that of Carlos (Caliban).
Pat
I wanted to read this book because I thought I'd learn about Trinidad. It was cliched, evil, perverted, white oppressor-type of book.
Desiree Ewing
excellent book. I have never read Shakespeare's The Tempest, but as a stand alone work, it is really captivating. I couldnt put it down
Tanya
promising premise but problematic romance turned me off-- along with writing that left nothing to the imagination
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Elizabeth Nunez emigrated from Trinidad to the US after completing high school. Nunez is provost at Medgar Evers College, the City University of New York, and an award-winning author.

She received her Ph.D. in English from New York University. She is the award-winning author of six novels: Prospero's Daughter (New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice and 2006 Florida Center for the Literary Arts...more
More about Elizabeth Nunez...
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