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The Island of Eternal Love

(La Habana oculta #4)

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  720 ratings  ·  92 reviews
An enchanting multigenerational epic of three families—from Africa, Spain, and China—and their bond to one another and the island they call home.

Cecilia is alone in a city that haunts her. Life in Miami evokes memories of Cuba: a scent in the breeze like the sea at the Malecón; the beat of a clave recalls island evenings when couples danced to forgotten rhythms. Far from h
Hardcover, 318 pages
Published June 12th 2008 by Riverhead / Penguin (first published 2006)
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3.85  · 
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 ·  720 ratings  ·  92 reviews

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Ana D.
Jul 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A very original novel. I liked it because it does not appeal to that everyday violence that I find in almost every contemporary book I read. It builds a love story with a lot of imagination, fantasy and unexpected twists. It's a novel for readers with intelligence and sensitivity.
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
This is an eminently forgettable story of Cuba's past and of modern-day Cuban immigrants in Miami. Not terrible, but everything here has been done before, and better, by other authors.

This is one of those books that alternates every chapter between present-day and historical storylines, in which the modern-day character learns the story of the historical ones. The modern chapters feature Cecilia, an angsty young Cuban reporter living in Miami. Cecilia meets an old woman in a Cuban bar who begins
Since this is a Spanish novel, i'm posting my humble review in both English and Spanish, just in case any English speaking reader cares for the past (and present) of a broken country, the sadness of those you lost their home and the beauty of 4 different love stories.

I have to admit have mixed feelings with this novel. The story Cuba is, (as heartbreaking as it is for me to say it) resonating too much with my own country for me not to feel closely the anger, the fear and the sadness of the char
Jul 13, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Cubans, CubAms, Cubophiles, readers who savor Latin flavor
Recommended to Lili by: nadie
An interesting piece. I read it in the English translation and could not help but imagine the wording that the author might have used in the original Spanish. This didn't detract from the pleaure of the reading but I would like to get a Spanish language copy to savor some of the typical Cubanspeak which came through fairly well in the English language version.

This book was okay.

I loved the elements of lore and various cultures. The whole story relied on the various fairy tales and legends of the three cultures being handed down through each generation, when the book ITSELF was just one of the same: a fairy tale that Cecelia and Miguel would also (one day) tell.

The author gave readers three different origins that eventually all grew together into one happy ending. A lot of the prose was captivating and beautifully writt
Latin American literature is famous for the genre of magical realism, but this was really only "magical" (and how I wish I meant that as a euphemism for "good"). It blends myths and concepts of magic from the Spanish, African and Chinese cultures that contributed to making Cuba, placing this hybridised concept of magic even in present-day Miami, which could potentially be interesting, but in this book it's not.

To be honest, most of this book is not interesting. As the blurb will tell you, the no
I have just finished a journey through the ethnic history of a people - my people - in a land of love and blood, as well as magically captivating landscapes in which sun and moon dance to the intoxicating rhythms of a gently rolling sea.

I have found myself in these pages. Chaviano's enthralling story has wrapped me in a nostalgic dream, one that had, inexplicably enough, dwelt in my subconscious mind for years. It was the dream of a beautiful island paradise, one where love is indeed eternal, w
Mocha Girl
Oct 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
The Island of Eternal Love by Daina Chaviano centers on Cecilia, a Miami journalist, who after having migrated during the 1994 Cuban exodus is experiencing bouts of homesickness and depression. At the insistence of friends, she is reluctantly dragged along for a night out and meets an old woman in the back of the club who commences to tell her life story to Cecilia. Finding more interest in the old woman's story than the club scene, Cecilia anxiously returns on a regular basis to hear the next e ...more
Tara Chevrestt
This is a pretty good read despite some minor flaws. It goes back and forth between modern day Miami and historical Cuba. Cecilia left Cuba and is currently living in Miami, but her past haunts her. She misses Cuba but also hates Cuba, or what Cuba has become. She meets an old lady in a bar who begins to tell her a tale of three separate families, all having made Cuba their home. There is a Chinese family that fled war torn China in hopes of finding refuge in the tropics, a family descendend fro ...more
Jan 13, 2012 rated it it was ok
Having no prior knowledge of Cuba, this book was an educational read in terms of the country’s heritage and history. However, while the story radiates a mysterious atmosphere by melding Chinese, Spanish and African mythology/folklore which I loved, it lacked in skill. Many scenes felt superficially told and unexplored. When it came to it, gauging the depth of the emotions portrayed by the characters was a challenge and little imagery could be summoned. I also had a problem with the shifting time ...more
Jerome Jewell
Feb 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Ms. Chaviano manages to weave together the stories of a small ensemble of characters...all of them quite interesting as they navigate major changes in their lives. In the process, she provides an historically rich and stimulating look at how aspects of Chinese, Spanish and African cultures came together to create Cuban culture. With a bit of mysticism and a dose of healthy imagination, she takes the reader on a refreshing, entertaining and educational journey.
Apr 24, 2008 rated it liked it
I'm currently reading this book and enjoying it so far. One reason why I like the book is that the main character is called Cecilia, like me. Will be back with a proper review soon. :)
Feb 03, 2018 rated it liked it
I think I remember reading a review somewhere that compared Daína Chaviano to Isabel Allende. That was definitely a stretch. The novel was okay, very slow in parts and I personally kept wanting to skip any chapters with Cecilia and catch up on Pablo and Amalia whom I found much more interesting. The novel wasn't all bad though. The historical aspect was very intriguing as I was unaware of the Chinese influence in Cuba so that was nice to learn a bit about. The themes of longing, nostalgia and th ...more
Janet Hamada
Dec 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a unique book to read about Cuba and its people. The stories are interwoven with the current day (1998) viewpoint of a Cuban immigrant in Miami. There is a haunted house vision in Miami that never quite fits, but the mystical realism works much better in the stories set in China, Spain and Cuba. I would love to read it in Spanish.
Lieselot Maerten
Nov 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Loved the stories of the different families.
Not a fan of the paranormal aspect of the book.
May 25, 2019 rated it it was ok
a story of finding and following the meandering and often lost family stories - the complex theme of belonging and the interplay of geography, culture and family.
Paula Sofia
3,5 ⭐ ...more
Aug 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
This was an interesting book. The relatively short chapters that were grouped into six parts made the book quick to read. There were many characters in this book, and sometimes it was hard to keep them all straight. The author did provide genealogical charts of a couple of prominent families from the book, and that was very helpful in sorting out characters and relationships. The book took the three main ethnicities that make up Cuba and told stories about families from each. Eventually, there a ...more
Melvin Rodríguez-Rodríguez
A sprawling saga that blends fantastic and gothic imagery while traces the ethnic origins of Cuban people. Young and depressed Cecilia is a Cuban journalist writing a piece on a mysterious house that appears and disappears around Miami. She finds solace in Amalia, a shady old woman she meets in a bar every night to hear a long family story. Upon that framework we meet the three families (Chinese, Spanish and African) that will eventually collide in Cuba. The author creatively casts quite a bunch ...more
Mar 22, 2012 rated it liked it
"The Island of Eternal Love" successfully fulfilled my craving for a magic realist novel, and it taught me a great deal about the richness of Cuban culture (with roots in China, Spain, and Africa), but it was not a page turner. However, some of the characters were flat or inconsistent, especially the protagonist reporter, Cecilia, whose actions don't always make sense. For example, she briefly dates a superficial dud named Roberto (who she herself admits is a dud), then there is so much heartbre ...more
Jan 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: magical-realism
Cecelia is an exile from Cuba, but feels isolated and detached from her new home in Miami. She meets an older woman in a Cuban-style bar, and becomes fascinated with Amalia's tales of three families in Cuba: one of Spanish descent, one of African, and one of Chinese. Cecelia comes back time and again to hear their stories and find out how they are connected to Amalia. One family even has an unusual curse that plagues generations. In the meantime, Cecelia is researching a story of a phantom house ...more
Santiago Soto
Mar 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a family saga that takes place along two parallel timelines. The modern story revolves around the paranormal investigations of Cecilia, a young journalist researching a phantom house that appears and disappears in different parts of Miami. The other one - which begins in the 19th century in China, Africa and Spain - is told by an old woman whom Cecilia meets in a bar. Different magical or supernatural events conspire to make these three stories from the past begin to mix. If you like fam ...more
Ernesto  Lago
Nov 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is interesting to read (from a previous comment) that Cecilia is the patron saint of music, because all the chapters have titles taken from boleros ﴾bolero is a type of romantic Cuban song﴿. Music plays an important role in the novel and there are many historical characters, related to the Cuban music, that appear there.

I really enjoyed this book and I hope I could read new translations from this author.

By the way, I found her Website ﴾﴿. Check it out. Not only it is a b
Ernesto  Lago
Nov 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
It is interesting to read (from a previous comment) that Cecilia is the patron saint of music, because all the chapters have titles taken from boleros ﴾bolero is a type of romantic Cuban song﴿. Music plays an important role in the novel and there are many historical characters, related to the Cuban music, that appear there.

I really enjoyed this book and I hope I could read new translations from this author.

By the way, I found her Website ﴾﴿. Check it out. Not only it is a b
Jan 13, 2010 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book quite a bit, but I found the different stories difficult to keep track of, and sometimes the story of the past just continued without Cecilia, the main character, visiting Amalia in the bar. It made it seem very obviously a literary device and thus made the story seem less real. Along with other viewers, I thought the end was pretty good and managed to tie things together, however.

Since this book was a translation of an original in Spanish, I also wondered how it would sound
Sep 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was a wonderful story. I love books that are rich in detail especially about the history of an old world place. This is the story of a woman named Cecilia who has migrated to Miami from Cuba. She is depressed living in Little Havana missing her home even though she wishes to never go back. She meets an old woman in a bar and goes back every night to hear a story she tells about three different families from Africa, Spain, and China who have made Cuba their home and become interconnected. Th ...more
Phuong Q. Le
Mar 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
I don't know why some of the best magical realism books I have read are originally in Spanish. I'm not that interested in the Latin-American/Cuban culture per se, but this one blends cultural seeds, daydreams and interwoven plotlines so well I don't feel like reading an anthropology book (I particularly dislike fiction books that try to hard to "teach" people about the country's traditions and cultures).
Jul 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Alana, Courtney
Well written story of 2 Cuban women in Miami, their individual stories, 3 families of Cubas past, and how they all tie together. This was a different read for me but I enjoyed the family stories and the added element of the mysterious and supernatural. Also a story of becomig at ease with who you are and where you came from.
Feb 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I just loved this book! Beautiful writing, epic mystical storyline. Learned so much about Cuba and China, and the mixture of cultures. This book just swept me away! And to think I wouldn't have read it unless I picked it up at the library's 'blind date' with a book table--wrapped in brown paper, one of about 20 books. Coinherence--we're all connected.
Jan 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh my, what a book, great story telling! Love, magic, passion, culture, exile and more are all intertwined in this great novel. Very recommended, very unique within Latinamerican literature. This is my second book by a Cuban female writer and I liked this one more than my first one (Cafe Nostalgia by Zoe Valdes)
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Sirens Conference: The Island of Eternal Love 3 11 Mar 27, 2016 05:24PM  

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Considerada una de las tres escritoras más importantes de la literatura fantástica y de ciencia ficción en lengua española, junto con Angélica Gorodischer (Argentina) y Elia Barceló (España) con quienes integra la llamada "trinidad femenina de la ciencia ficción en Hispanoamérica".

Mientras vivió en Cuba, publicó varios libros de fantasía y ciencia ficción, convirtiéndose en la autora más vendida y

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