Jocelyn Cassada's Reviews > Gabriela, Clavo y Canela

Gabriela, Clavo y Canela by Jorge Amado
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Feb 15, 12

Read in February, 2012

In Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon, Jorge Amado provides a comprehensive overview of Brazil in the 1920s. Set in the small, developing town of Ilhéus, the novel follows numerous plot lines that reveal a host of different problems that arise from the theme of "progress."

The struggle between old and new is evident in the political struggle between the old colonels and those who desire greater material comforts and connectivity with the world outside of Ilhéus. The novel subtly criticizes both sides of the political struggle, which provides a nuanced insight into the meaning of "progress" for Brazil.

I was also very interested in the changing status of women in Brazil as portrayed by Amado in the novel. Amado ironically describes the relationships between men and women, highlighting the hypocrisy of the men and the seemingly barbaric notion of honor that often incited men to violence to protect their women as their property. The unconventional relationship between Gabriela and Nacib broke with the societal norms of the time and the (almost) nonviolent end to their marriage seemed to serve as a catalyst for some change in relations between men and women in the town.

I really enjoyed reading the book, but I sometimes felt that it addressed so many different aspects of Brazilian culture and the problems of "progress" that I was unable to unpack all of them. Nonetheless, I felt like I came away with a better understanding of the different facets of Brazilian culture. The book was long, but easy to read and the development of the plot lines made me want to continue reading. I would recommend the book to anyone who is interested in the political and economic development of Brazil in the early 20th century and to anyone who enjoys a good love story.
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Quotes Jocelyn Liked

Jorge Amado
“I believe that she has the kind of magic that causes revolutions and promotes great discoveries. There’s nothing I enjoy more than to observe Gabriela in the midst of a group of people. Do you know what she reminds me of? A fragrant rose in a bouquet of artificial flowers.”
Jorge Amado, Gabriela, Clavo y Canela


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