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3.50  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,447 Ratings  ·  414 Reviews
An epic novel of love, discovery, and adventure by the author of the best-selling memoir When I Was Puerto Rican.

As a young girl growing up in Spain, Ana Larragoity Cubillas is powerfully drawn to Puerto Rico by the diaries of an ancestor who traveled there with Ponce de León. And in handsome twin brothers Ramón and Inocente—both in love with Ana—she finds a way to get the
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published July 12th 2011 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2011)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Mary Dickey
Sep 06, 2011 Mary Dickey rated it it was ok
Shelves: conquistadora
This one seems to have all the ingredients needed for a real page-turner: twincest, lesbian love, a fiery heroine and a hard-charging man, lush Caribbean setting, a humpbacked foundling with psychic powers, slave rebellions...what's not to like? The terrible, plodding prose that makes each page a slog. In the right hands this could have been the kind of guilty pleasure you don't want to put down on the beach blanket--even for a quick dip. But it's not. Bad writing killed a good story.
Oh, my. Such a big mistake to compare Ana in this novel to Scarlett O'Hara. Isn't the first line of "Gone with the Wind" something like "Scarlett O'Hara was not beautiful but men rarely noticed after being captivated by her charm"? So here we have Ana who is not beautiful and has no charm, so unless being good at business and having slaves is what you're going to base that comparison on, it is quite a stretch.

So let's forget about Scarlett and look at Ana. Captivated by journals of an ancestor w
Jan 29, 2012 Wendy rated it it was amazing
Epic in scope and set in 1800's Puerto Rico, this book is rich with fully imagined characters in a vibrant setting. We see entire lives lived out through these pages. This unforgettable story tells of the strong and flawed Ana, who imagines herself following in the footsteps of her ancestors to own a hacienta in Puerto Rico. She finds a way to make this dream a reality. What follows is her story and those whose lives intersect with hers. Santigo is a beautiful writer who tells her riveting tale ...more
Jul 16, 2015 Sarah rated it it was ok
2.5 stars, if I could.

Santiago's rote style of writing holds back this novel. While none of the characters are remotely sympathetic, there is something interesting about them and their situations. Ana really could have been something special, ignoring her instinctual dislike of slavery in favor of exploiting her workers to further her ambitions. However, Santiago does not fully delve into the emotional conflict, settling instead for telling us everything we should know about the character.

The l
Randi Reisfeld
Aug 14, 2011 Randi Reisfeld rated it liked it
This one got amazing reviews -- NYT, USA Today, People, Entertainment Weekly, etc -- in other words, all the places I routinely search for new books. Not exactly high-brow, but that's how I roll. This one was billed as a "Puerto Rican Gone With The Wind." Okay, you got my interest. It's the mid-1800s we've got a scrappy heroine overcoming obstacles, bad love-good love, moral compromises, hardships, indifferent parents/in-laws, and lots and lots of slaves. (PR, then ruled by Spain had not outlawe ...more
Megan Knippenberg
Feb 21, 2013 Megan Knippenberg rated it liked it
I appreciated this book from an informational standpoint. I learned a lot about Spanish colonization, slavery in the Caribbean and life on a hacienda/plantation in colonial Puerto Rico. This time period is simply fascinating.

On the other hand, I wouldn't recommend this book for the story. The main character frustrated me to no end. She was very guarded and had trouble displaying affection to anyone who loved her. Additionally, the ending of the book was rather disconcerting. One of the final li
Dec 23, 2013 Johanna rated it did not like it
Someday Puerto Rico will have a great historical novel about independence, Betances, and the migration to Puerto Rico. This one is not it. It reads like a history book discarded halfway and reworked with characters that are just stand-ins that the author can do things to while explaining the history drily. When I think of great historical fiction--Farming of Bones, House of the Spirits--it also has great characters, alive, not mannequins being manipulated by history. News flash: just because you ...more
Jamilla Rice
May 05, 2012 Jamilla Rice rated it liked it
After being swept up in the drama, euphoria, and total mind-numbing ecstasy which was this year's National Book Festival (Book Nerds of the World, UNITE!) I felt compelled to purchase this book. How could I have sat through Ms. Santiago's talk about the extensive research that she completed in her efforts to craft her sweeping epic tale of a headstrong young Spanish woman, descendant of conquistadors, born during a time when a woman only became free when her husband died, and then only if he was ...more
Jun 01, 2011 Hoosier rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 31, 2011 Ana rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all Puerto Ricans out there
"Conquistadora" is the story of Ana Larragoity, a 19th century Spanish lady, descendant of conquistadors, who travels to Puerto Rico seeking fortune and adventure with her husband and brother-in-law, heirs to a sugarcane plantation.

When I first started reading the book, it felt like deja-vu, like I've read the story before. Then I realized that Ana's story reminded me of Isabel Allende's Hija de la Fortuna and Retrato en Sepia. I felt a little dissapointed at the beginning, but then remembered t
Nov 04, 2014 Margaretanne rated it liked it
I thought I would like this book better than I did. Wish Good reads had 1/2 ratings so I could give it 2.5 stars. Anyway, I was intrigued by the the kind of historical fiction that I like - strong, determined female character fights for survival in the face of adversity. When I began the book I was skeptical because it wasn't leaning that way and had way too much lesbian love and threesomes for my taste. But about half way through the book, the author more or less left those plots behind and foc ...more
Aug 29, 2011 Beverly rated it it was ok
Spent my Hurricane Irene reading this novel. Santiago is a solid writer, and she's chosen a subject that should captivate any fan of historical fiction. Yet, the novel falls short. As I seek to understand why I did not *love* this book, I put part of the blame on the omniscient narrator. I would have preferred a close-third to a few of the characters rather than the disconcerting visits into the p.o.v. of minor characters. I was pulled out of the narrative dream by short p.o.v. changes that did ...more
Nov 23, 2011 Krista rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wasn't a huge fan of the narration, sometimes it seemed exaggerated. I hated (really, truly, deeply disliked everything about) nearly every single character in the story.

That said, I needed to know what happened to all of them. I liked it. I'm glad I listened. I probably would not have gotten through it as quickly if I was physically reading it though, due to the nature of my life right now (must be completely sucked in to even bother finishing) and because some of the details at times moved
Aug 23, 2014 ~ToniG~ rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2012, reviewed, ss
So not impressed. I was really looking forward to reading this book being as it was about my fellow Puerto Ricans but I was so disappointed. It was like reading about history and trash mixed together. How did this get such good reviews? If it were solely based on Anna's journey to PR, what they encountered, the hardships, joys and pains etc I would have really like it. It is just filled with so many other things that was not needed for the story ie the incest. What is the point really?

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Audiobook read by the author

Ana Cubillas is the only child of wealthy, aristocratic Spaniards. Raised to be a proper young lady, she chafes against the restrictions of her position in society. In her grandfather’s library she finds diaries of an ancestor who traveled to Puerto Rico with Ponce de Leon, and she is convinced her destiny lies on that remote island. When she meets the handsome twin brothers Ramon and Inocente Argoso, she finds a way to get there. Ana marries Ramon, and in 1844 t
Dec 26, 2013 Tzeittle rated it really liked it
I started reading this book when I was pregnant and my daughter will be two in March! I'm a huge fan of Esmeralda Santiago's writing but this particular book failed to catch my attention, which caused me to restart it a few times. Once I got into it, I really enjoyed it but felt that the ending was lacking something. Hopefully there will be a sequel to tie a few things together, otherwise this story would feel somewhat incomplete.
Jan 24, 2015 Arantxa rated it it was amazing
Do you know that seen in Silver Linings Playbook, where Bradley Cooper is reading a book and yells 'What The fuck?!' slams the book shut and throws it out the window?

Well that was me throughout the entire book (minus the throwing out the window, 'cause that would've been tiresome), every time there was a 'happy' moment in a characters life something horrible had to follow it. To the point that death was not just a theme but a character of its very own.

Nevertheless, the writing kept me engrossed
May 06, 2011 Doret rated it liked it
When we first meet Ana, she's just being born. Neither Ana's parents show much interest in her. Ana's Spainard family is well known and comes from old money. Ana's loves reading they diary of her ancestor's who first invaded Puerto Rico. Even as a young girl Ana dreams of making a name for herself in Puerto Rico.

I loved the beginning, Santiago does an excellent job of introducing Ana and building a great foundation for this novel. A necessity for a book that's over 400 pages. I was quickly draw
Jul 14, 2011 Charlie rated it really liked it
Conquistadora is an arduous three-part journey that follows several generations through the hardships of running a sugar plantation in Puerto Rico. The story belongs to the main female character, Ana Cubillas, but does not neglect providing different aspects of life during this niche in history. Ana's ambition paints her as cold and sometimes cruel, but the determination she shows is remarkable, if not admirable. Conquistadora echoes the classic Gone With the Wind, and the main character reflect ...more
Oct 01, 2011 Ssjustice rated it liked it
If Ana Larragoity Cubillas had been born in 20th century America instead of 19th century Spain, she'd be the head of a Fortune 500 company. Instead, she's a misfit in upper class society of 1840s Spain. Entranced by the letters of a conquistador ancestor who accompanied Ponce de Leon to Puerto Rico, Ana is determined to create the frame and fortune that her ancestor died before achieving. Carefully plotting her future, she selects a husband she can manipulate and then manuevers him into emigrati ...more
Nov 01, 2011 Gina rated it liked it
This book is in the story-telling style of Isabelle Allende but I can't quite compare it to Allende's work, it falls a bit short of that. There's an excellent story here though -- Conquistadora is the story of a young woman in 19th century Spain who doesn't conform to the rigid expectations set for women of that time. She feels unwanted by her parents because she isn't a boy, she is a disappointment to them, but as she grows older she realizes her parents are a disappointment to her. Ana doesn't ...more
Feb 15, 2014 Suzy marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
I was reading (actually listening to) this book because the author is going to be at our library in mid-July and I thought it would be good to read something of hers and then go hear her speak. I like historical fiction and this book sounded interesting. The book is about Ana Larragoity Cubillas, a young Spanish girl in the 1800's who wants to replicate the adventure of her ancestors in the 1400's by going to Spanish America. She does so by marrying a young man whose family has a plantation in P ...more
Aug 31, 2011 Jessica rated it liked it
Conquistadora is the tale of a strong, feminist Latina living in the wrong century.
Esmeralda Santiago, best known for her 1994 memoir When I Was Puerto Rican, has written the epic story of Ana Larragoity Cubillas, a 19th century Spainard who yearns to live an adventurous life overseas after reading the journals of her ancestors who traveled to the New World three centuries earlier. At the age of 18, she convinces her husband, Ramón, and his identical twin brother, Inocente, to run a sugar can
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
So far this book has not been well-received, and while it isn’t terrible, I have to agree with the other reviewers that it also isn’t very good.

Despite the title, Conquistadora is mostly about Ana, a young Spanish woman who, enthralled by the journals of a conquistador ancestor, moves to mid-19th century Puerto Rico to live on a sugar plantation. The book follows the next 20 years of her life, as well as the lives of her relatives and slaves.

Probably the best thing about this book is the histori
Oct 07, 2014 Nichola rated it liked it
A sweeping story, focused on a girl and her ambitious desires to leave Spain and manage a plantation in Puerto Rico. The rambling episodes reflect many of the different time periods ending approximately with the freeing of the slaves. Interestingly, I heard after I had finished that the author had a stroke while writing this and lost the ability to read. She recovered it by reteaching herself with picture books, but was for the first time unable to do her own Spanish translation because she hadn ...more
May 21, 2012 Carolyn rated it it was ok
I gave this an "ok" rating because I found the story very contrived for the sole purpose of revealing the history of Puerto Rico and all of its facets of living/strata. I found the historical references very interesting, however, which is why I liked the book. I don't believe you'd find such a broad historical evolution/explanation of how the island was settled; that at least is done well in this book. I found the storyline typical and a bit farfetched as to some of the characters; but a fast re ...more
Brenda Mejia
Jul 18, 2012 Brenda Mejia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Why I think this book deserves a 5? Because first of all, it was a great surprise for me after reading the series of the Esmeralda Santiago memories, seeing that she was able to develop such a great novel of a different genre. Im a huge fan of Historical Fiction, and I think she did use a good fictional storyline to present a certain historic period, which is the main purpose of Historical Fiction. Maybe for many readers who are not aware nor interested on Puerto Rican story during the 19th cent ...more
Sep 27, 2014 Darcy rated it did not like it
A smutty novel masquerading as historical fiction. I made it to page 55 before I decided to give up on it. If an author has to use this much sex to try and interest their reader, there's clearly something amiss. The prose was lackluster and choppy. Complete trash. I hope Costco takes it back.
Oct 21, 2011 Iejones rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another ARC of an author I am not familiar with - but my love for history won out. In brief, I LOVED this book. Her character development of nineteenth century Spain and the plight and peril of pilgrims to the western hemisphere in Spanish speaking colonies in amazing. The best part for me was the intricate detail about the enslaved African population in Puerto Rico. She took time to explain the variety of ethic groups that were pillaged and brought to the Caribbean. She also explained possible ...more
Lori Cox
Sep 18, 2011 Lori Cox rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult

Loved this book! Ana is a strong willed Spanish woman, determined to follow her conquistadoro ancestors to Puerto Rico. She is not meant for the white gloved, corseted society of manners and rules. In order to accomplish this goal, she marries a twin and they go live on the plantation his family owns on this island. It is a tough life, and disturbing details regarding slave life on a cane plantation are horrifying to read. Ana is a determined woman and ignores her conscious, surviving despite th
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Esmeralda Santiago (born 1948 in San Juan, Puerto Rico). Is a renowned Puerto Rican author In 1961, she came to the United States when she was thirteen years old, the eldest in a family that would eventually include eleven children. Ms. Santiago attended New York City's Performing Arts High School, where she majored in drama and dance. After eight years of part-time study at community colleges, sh ...more
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“I learned you pay for your happiness. That's why I don't expect to be happy all the time. I'd rather be surprised by one moment every so often to remind me that joy is possible, even if I have to pay for it later.” 44 likes
“How can you know what you're capable of if you don't embrace the unkown?” 23 likes
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