Dimity's Reviews > Island Beneath the Sea

Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende
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's review
Mar 07, 2011

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bookshelves: caribbean, reading-women-2011, slavery, historic-fiction, reviewed, woc, read-women-fiction, 2011
Read from May 02 to 10, 2011

I enjoyed this book but was also disappointed by it. It was extremely well researched and Allende writes beautifully-it was a joy to read. I enjoyed the first half of the book and its Haitian setting more than the second part based in Louisiana. I find that most translated books read a bit strangely but that is not the case with this novel; it flows seamlessly. I’m not sure if that can be credited to Allende or the translator, but it was a nice surprise.

I was disappointed not to see her sources included at the end because she obviously did her research. I know novelists aren’t obligated to include their historical sources but I found it quite disappointing she chose not to. Haitian history isn’t very well-known and I feel she missed a chance to allow readers who are drawn to this book by her reputation to learn more about this fascinating time and place.

I rolled my eyes at the Irish overseer’s wife commiserating with the slaves and comparing their bondage to the indentured servitude her family had experienced. I can’t help but notice that this comparison seems to sneak into books penned by white people. I find the differences between indentured servitude and forced slavery in this setting to be so far apart I can’t even rationally compare the two.

In the end, I feel that Allende’s considerable talent did not tell this particular story as well as I hoped for but I am still interested in reading more of her novels.

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