Mae's Reviews > Nuestra senora de la noche: Novela

Nuestra senora de la noche by Mayra Santos-Febres
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's review
Aug 23, 11

bookshelves: spanish
Read in August, 2011

Isabel la Negra, died when I was fourteen years old. She was one of Puerto Rico's most infamous character. She was powerful, she was very rich and she was a Madama like very few others. Isabel was black, single and an orphan. I remember her funeral, it was in all the news, but I never understood the turmoil. Her murder, went unsolved, her funeral was on every channel on every newspaper. Surprisingly, that is all I knew about Isabel la Negra. (Isabel the black.) "Good people" despised her-- "era una ramera" (she was a whore) was what I was told. "She dealt in drugs and that is why she was killed finally". As a budding feminist at the time, I had my doubts. Her murdered still remains unsolved and not much has been written about her.
Afterall-- (and I hate to have to say this) she was just an orphaned black woman who ran a brothel!
This book tells her life, from early childhood, her sufferings and the development of her empire. After reading this book I feel a responsibility to find out more about her, at least I understand the turmoil after her death and another aspect to her story.
Mayra Santos Febres is a talented poet, this book is an ode to Isabel.
What I found most fascinating about this book is how well Mayra captures and describes the class divide in Puerto Rico and the cultural shock of young puertorricans when they arrive in the US. The class divide may have changed-- but the cultural shock was the same when I went to school 25 years ago.
I think Mayra should write an update-- showing the classes in Puerto Rico. She is the best candidate to write the Great Puertorrican novel. She has the sensibility and the talent.
I must say, that I first wrote this review immediately after finishing the book. This book has been haunting me for the last two days so I had to come back add two more stars and edit my review. It stays on you. Like the smoke from a fire.

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