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Prospero's Daughter

3.61  ·  Rating Details  ·  274 Ratings  ·  46 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
Oct 12, 2009 Mocha Girl rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 15, 2012 Dana rated it it was amazing
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
B. Morrison
Mar 16, 2013 B. Morrison rated it really liked it
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
Urenna Sander
Jan 19, 2015 Urenna Sander rated it it was amazing
In 1961, English widower, Doctor Peter Bidwedder, is a fugitive from justice. He is known to experiment on his patients, sometimes disfiguring them. One of his patients dies from his medical experiment. Because of this, fearing a lawsuit, his brother, Paul, who is also a physician, arranges for Peter to leave England before he is arrested and sued. Paul advises him to turn over his bank assets, home and their parents’ inheritance to him.

Peter changes his name to Peter Gardner.

Similar to the bro
Mar 31, 2016 M rated it liked it
Shelves: meh

-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.


-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
Alyssa Archambo Nelson
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.
Jan 08, 2011 Lorraine rated it liked it  ·  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
Oct 17, 2011 Sarah rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
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
Dec 22, 2015 Nancy rated it really liked it
Shelves: contemporary
An interesting retelling of The Tempest. The Prospero character is an English doctor who fled England under a cloud with his 3-year-old daughter in tow and lives on an island near Trinidad (the only other residents being those in a leper colony on the other side of the island. Dr. Peter Gardner is fascinated with crafting new medicines (and had to flee because he tested one of his drugs on a patient, who died) and "crafting" new strains of tropical plants but who, ironically is against the "cros ...more
Dec 26, 2013 Yanira rated it really liked it
I 100% recommend this novel. If you have read The Tempest than this is the next step.

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
Pilar Jaehn
Aug 06, 2015 Pilar Jaehn rated it really liked it
I loved how each of the three chunks were from a new character's perspective and I really appreciated that the last perspective was from the daughter. She shared an interesting view on the entire situation and I felt that the contrast between the betrayal of a father, the man who was supposed to love her and protect her, and the love of the boy who chose to love her and protect her because he wanted to, gave the story an endearing heir of innocence and happy-ever-after.
Bernard James
Feb 04, 2016 Bernard James rated it really liked it
Masterful and engaging… Elizabeth Nunez delivers another literary gem in Prospero’s Daughter. If you’ve never been to Trinidad, you will undoubtedly have some idea of what it’s like after reading this novel. Like Rocks Dance, Bruised Hibiscus and portions of the Anna novels, Nunez offers the reader a glimpse into the tropical lushness of her Caribbean home as she weaves (in expert fashion) a complex tale of love, forgiveness, fear and deceit. Themes of race, class and Colonialism provide a recog ...more
Cynthia Egbert
Jan 08, 2016 Cynthia Egbert rated it it was ok
Shelves: library
This book gave me the creeps repeatedly and the themes and story points she chose to use from The Tempest do not sit well with me. You know me, you really have to hit things just right if you are going to do a retelling of one of the Bard's works. This doesn't do it for me and just left me feeling like I wanted to wash my hands. Sorry to whoever it is that recommended this one to me.
Steven Felicelli
Apr 12, 2015 Steven Felicelli rated it liked it
Botanical/Anthropological analogy is a bit heavy-handed, as is the Tempest(/Othello) conceit. Very little (if anything) new on the Colonialist you-were-the-savages front. Readers of Jean Rhys, Victorian or Gothic novels, even Shakespeare may find it amusing, as Nunez is a legit story-teller.
Cynthia Marie
Feb 03, 2016 Cynthia Marie rated it it was amazing
Elizabeth Nunez' prose is beautiful, magical, and lyrical. I was transported to Trinidad as Nunez is always capable of sending the reader. Although themes (white supremacy, incest, violence, patriarchy, effects of colonialism, classism, sexism, deceit, servitude) are difficult to read, Nunez delivers them with grace and sensibility. This novel should leave you very uncomfortable with the world we live in. Nunez beautifully renders the landscape of the island of Chacachacare. This is probably my ...more
Jan 12, 2015 Debs rated it liked it
Shelves: bookclub, 2015
Revising my rating of this one, because it deserves three stars for accomplishment and two for my personal enjoyment, and it seems more fair to judge it based on its merit rather than my own personal preferences.
Apr 22, 2010 Shirma rated it really liked it
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
Nov 26, 2011 Meaghan rated it it was amazing
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
May 16, 2016 Abranch71 rated it really liked it
Reworking of The Tempest in Trinidad early 1960s. Issues of race, colonialism, sexism.
Jan 30, 2009 sdw rated it really liked it
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
Feb 24, 2012 Sara rated it it was amazing
Shelves: school-reading
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!
Jul 23, 2010 Sarah rated it liked it
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).
Beginning was more was okay at the end
Dec 29, 2012 Tahni rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
Jan 22, 2014 Gina Schwartz rated it really liked it
Even though I have never read the tempest. I really enjoyed this novel. I couldn't put it down.
Christina A.
May 08, 2010 Christina A. rated it really liked it
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
Dec 19, 2007 Miss Trini rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 16, 2010 Fred Daly rated it liked it
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.
Sep 16, 2008 Jenny rated it liked it
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
Jul 21, 2010 Agnes Duncan rated it it was amazing
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.
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Elizabeth Nunez is the award-winning author of multiple titles, the latest of which is her novel Even in Paradise. Her novels Boundaries and Anna In-Between were New York Times Editors’ Choices. Anna In-Between won the 2010 PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award and was long-listed for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Nunez also received the 2015 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in nonfiction f ...more
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