Andy Miller's Reviews > Island Beneath the Sea

Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende
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's review
Sep 21, 2010

really liked it
Read in September, 2010

This novel follows the lives of two characters; Toulouse Valmorian, a French aristocrat who moves to Haiti in the late 1700s to run a plantation and Tete, a young slave he purchases to care for his new bride.

Allende paints a compelling view of slavery in Haiti and shows how it corrupts the souls of the slaveowners and contrasts that with the dignity that many slaves retain despite the brutality inflicted upon them.
Allende also focuses on the children who are born from the rape of slaves by their owners and how it intertwines slave and master, especially during the slave revolt where Valmorian becomes dependent on Tete and Tete balances her desire to join the revolt with concerns about what will happen to her children.
After the slave revolt the novel shifts to New Orleans where the characters move after the slave revolt in Haiti. Allende contrasts slavery in New Orleans to Haiti and weaves the different cultures into the lives of the characters, including the eventual freedom gained by Tete.
This book is best when it details specific events in the character's lives, she creates suspense and many multi dimensional characters. The book lost me at times when it spanned many years in a few pages

I also did not like the storyline towards the end involving Valmorian's son with his first wife and his daughter with Tete, I found it jarring and distracting from the ending's eventual promise of hope even among the despair and brutality of slavery and the horrible race relations that followed
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