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4.04  ·  Rating details ·  5,167 ratings  ·  214 reviews
It is 1905 and Luis Bernardo Valenca, a thirty-seven-year-old bachelor and owner of a small shipping company, is revelling in Lisbon’s grand and luxurious high society. But his life is turned upside down when King Dom Carlos invites him to become governor of Portugal’s smallest colony, the island of São Tomé e Principe. Luis Bernardo is ill-prepared for the challenges of p ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published (first published 2003)
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Margarida Set in the beginning of the 20th century, it's about a young businessman, Luís Bernardo Valença, from Lisbon who is invited by the King to be Governor…moreSet in the beginning of the 20th century, it's about a young businessman, Luís Bernardo Valença, from Lisbon who is invited by the King to be Governor of Portugal's smallest colony - Sao Tomé and Principe (2 islands in the African Atlantic Coast, near the Equator). He is sent there with a single purpose - to prove to the British council, David Jameson, that there are no slaves in the coffee and cocoa plantations of Sao Tomé. Unfortunately, he will meet across the island several plantation owners to whom the terms "humane conditions" mean very little and whose definition of "free workers" is wider than usual. So, how will he convince the council of something he is not sure is true?
Luis Bernardo eventually befriends David, but at the same time falls is love with his wife Ann, and thus the fate of the diplomatic relations between England and Portugal rest on the hands of these 3 characters.

The story is mostly told from Luis Bernardo's p.o.v., though the author also gifts us with the story of how David's career got him from India to S. Tome, from David's p.o.v.

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4.04  · 
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 ·  5,167 ratings  ·  214 reviews

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Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
I was excited to find a book set in São Tomé and Príncipe, and this one started out interesting, albeit slow-paced. Unfortunately, it soon became offensive on several levels, and took much longer than I expected to finish.

In 1905, Luis Bernardo is a gentleman in Lisbon when he's called upon to spend three years as governor of São Tomé and Príncipe. The British are accusing the Portuguese of using slave labor on the islands, and threatening to boycott their exports; Luis Bernardo's job is to clea
Daniel Gamboa
Jan 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was motivated to read this novel for an upcoming trip I am doing this Summer to Sao Tome. It was recommended in my Bradt Guide to Sao Tome & Principe, and this is one of the two novels available in English set in this African country. I am very glad I read it, for there is little information available about this country other than the basics offered by geography and history books.

Luis Bernardo Valenca is a Portuguese, hedonist man living in Lisbon at the beginning of the 1900's. David Jame
Equator began promisingly, introducing Luis Bernardo Valenca, the owner of a small Portuguese shipping company who in 1905 is himself unwillingly shipped off to the other side of the globe to be governor of the tiny cocoa-producing colony of Sao Tome e Principe. Luis has been tasked by the king of Portugal with persuading the Portuguese colonists on the island to forego slave labour, while at the same time persuading the visiting English consul that slavery has never existed there. Tavares' init ...more
Oct 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
'They will never...accept that the surreptitious slavery they practise...isn't a gift from Providence.', October 21, 2014

This review is from: Equator (Hardcover)
Started this unsure exactly where Sao Tome is - feel I've learned an awful lot and been greatly entertained on the way.

Well-written narrative, opening in 1905, when Luis Bernardo is asked to go leave his luxurious life to sort out problems in this godforsaken spot - the plantation owners here determinedly run their businesses using sla
Miguel Pais
Dec 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
A beautiful story about the political fight of a man in São Tomé e Príncipe, against the colonial background of its home country (Portugal). Set in the beginning of the 20th century.
Not only do I strongly recommend that you read it, I would be inclined to think that this book is more suitable for compulsory reading in our schools than some of the current choices.
Amanda Presotti
The poor women and people of color in this book are no more than props. It really brings the whole thing down.
Henna Pääkkönen
Nov 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Miguel Sousa Tavaresfirst novel relates the complicated political situation of Säo Tomé and Principe islands (a Portuguese colony at the time) along the west coast of Africa in the beginning of 1900s.
The main character of this historic novel is Luis Bernardo Valença, who owns his own shipping agency in Lisbon, likes to read his daily papers, has an interest in politics and occasionally publicly comments some newspaper articles such as the one recently on the colony of Säo Tomé and Principe.
Feb 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel is a compelling reading mainly because of the historical context.
Set in a period near the end of Portugal's Monarchy and where its colonies were used as political weapons by old (so called) allies, Tavares presents us with the typical romantic tale of torn hearts. In these romantic context, nothing new is presented and the ending becomes obvious before the last pages.
What's most interesting in this book, as said previously, is the historic context where the novel takes place with all
Jan 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Sousa Tavares is a very good descriptive writer, a keen observer of nature and society, who manages to convey the light and dark of Santo Tomé without falling into the (to me mightily annoying) traps of costumbrism. Emotions are his weakness, though: the passion between Luis and his beloved felt flat and unbelievable.
Still an enjoyable book and a worth read for its human portrait of colonialism in the early XX century.
Jul 11, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-tour, temp
The setting for most of this book is São Tomé and Príncipe in 1905. It reads as if it might have been written then, although it was actually written in the C21st and the author is Portuguese. It evokes the time and place well. The main character thinks and acts the way someone of his time and background would.
It is also a good story, which made me want to keep reading. Other commitments got in the way and I did not finish the book, but I will return to it.
Nov 21, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Read as part of an international book club. The first half of this book was really hard to get through as it set up the scene, but I really had to push myself through the rest of it. I was a little interested to see what would happen and just was not impressed. Wish I would have spent my time on more uplifting and purposeful books.
Sean Rasmussen
Jan 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Historical Romance/ Epic Novel
Very historically accurate and a good depiction of Portuguese culture. It really captures the Portuguese love for overly dramatic story lines. On top of all that, it's just a great story. Author was a journalist and this is his first novel. He did a great job.
Mar 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I would give 6 stars, if I could.
Diana Zaidman
Jan 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Jun 30, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed, 2010, portuguese
I couldn't believe the ending
Flavio Sousa
Jun 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
An interesting novel by Portugal's most controversial journalist. 'Equador' is carefully researched, descriptions are abundant and detailed but the story is fast paced and never boring.
Adriana Sabino
Mar 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Beautifully written book. Characters are well constructed, the story flows wrapping the reader in sensuous descriptions until the surprising end. I loved the book.
The author evidently did a lot of research about the political situation in Sao Tome in the early 1900's, which was evident. But, the story itself was a really boring, obvious romance. Blah.
Ana Rocha
Dec 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
My favourite Portuguese book. A beautiful romance between Portugal and the former African colonies.
Niall Pelota
So so book about the end of colonialism in africa by a minor player in portugals elite. Fantastic setting, not so great for character depth. Still, a noble effort but can stretch belief at points.
Miriam Williams
Mar 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
I read this book a long time ago and I did quite enjoyed it!! the story is just like the sea's streams you don't know where it will take you. Awesome story, quite enjoyed it!!!
Sep 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Κριτική στα Ελληνικά από κάτω....

Equator is a very interesting book, touching on many different subjects. Unfortunately, it doesn't avoid many clichés with some stereotypical behaviors and characters, but I really "enjoyed" the historical setting and some of the plot elements. How many people are familiar with São Tomé and Príncipe and/or Portuguese politics on early 1900s anyway? This book intrigued me to seek further information on those.

Ενδιαφέρον βιβλίο που στην αρχή βρήκα υπερβολικά αργόσυρ
Jul 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
In 1905, Luis Bernardo is a typical bon-vivant of the high society of Lisbon when he is invited to spend three years as governor of the colony of São Tomé and Príncipe, two "islets" in the middle of the ocean as the author likes to emphasize. The British are accusing the Portuguese of using slave labor on the islands and threatening to boycott their exports; Luis Bernardo's job is to clear the situation before that happens. (Note that Luis Bernardo is fictitious).

Ecuador is a very interesting hi
Sep 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It's such a good and magnificent book. Besides being good literature gives us a historical perspective of the early twentieth century.
The story takes place in the Portuguese colony of São Tomé, at the time an important cocoa growing point.
It is a book that makes us ardently to be in Africa and participate, as an observer, in the story of Luis Bernardo.
I always thought this book would make a good Hoolywood movie!
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I got completely sucked into this book. The prose was gorgeous and the balance between all the political leanings at the time was perfect. It was only by chance I picked this book up, and now I can't believe I hadn't heard of it before now!
Gyovana Lisboa
Jan 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
amazing book, the writing is so easy it makes you get into the story and not come out. the characters are displayed in such a unique way and its writing makes it more interesting and intriguing. loved the book so much and would highly recommend if you’re looking for a portuguese writer!
Teresa Pereira
Aug 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Another good book. Gives na insight (even when some say that the historical events aren't correct) of how life was in the colonies. Enjoyed the end, wasn't expecting.
Oct 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
A book to chill, easy-going read, a beautiful romance and you even can learn a bit of the portuguese history.
Bartolomeu Alicerces
Nice book, just got the feeling that right now I know St Tome & Principe.

Need to go and see the real thing :-)

PS: In some moment of our lifes we all had a "Ann" in our lifes ;-)
Filipe Simões
Sep 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Beautifully written! Definitely the best Portuguese Author
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Muito bom romance, demasiado histórico 1 15 Dec 29, 2014 03:12AM  

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Miguel Sousa Tavares is a portuguese journalist and was born in Porto, on the 25th June 1952. His mother, Sophia de Mello Breyner, was a poetess and his father, Francisco de Sousa Tavares, a lawyer and a journalist. After taking the Law course, he carried advocacy during twelve years, but left it permanently to become a full time journalist.
He first appeared at television in 1978, by entering the
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“It’s almost always sadder to stay than to depart” 15 likes
“As ilhas são lugares de solidão e nunca isso é tão nítido como quando partem os que apenas vieram de passagem e ficam no cais, a despedir-se, os que vão permanecer. Na hora da despedida, é quase sempre mais triste ficar do que partir e, numa ilha, isso marca uma diferença fundamental, como se houvesse duas espécies de seres humanos: os que vivem na ilha e os que chegam e partem.” 4 likes
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