Here at last is the
eagerly awaited new novel from New York Times bestselling author Gail Godwin.
Queen of the Underworld is sweeping and sultry literary fiction, featuring a
memorable young heroine and engaging characters whose intimate dramas
interconnect with hers.
In the summer of 1959, as Castro clamps down on Cuba and its first wave of exiles flees to the States to wait out what they hope to be his short-lived reign, Emma Gant, fresh out of college, begins her career as a reporter. Her fierce ambition and belief in herself are set against the stories swirling around her, both at the newspaper office and in her downtown Miami hotel, which is filling up with refugees.
Emma's avid curiosity about life thrives amid the tropical charms and intrigues of Miami. While toiling at the news desk, she plans the fictional stories she will write in her spare time. She spends her nights getting to know the Cuban families in her hoteland rendezvousing with her married lover, Paul Nightingale, owner of a private Miami Beach club.
As Emma experiences the historical events enveloping the city, she trains her perceptive eye on the people surrounding her: a newfound Cuban friend who joins the covert anti-Castro training brigade, a gambling racketeer who poses a grave threat to Paul, and a former madam, still in her twenties, who becomes both Emma's obsession and her alter ego. Emma's life, like a complicated dance that keeps sweeping her off her balance, is suddenly filled with divided loyalties, shady dealings, romantic and professional setbacks, and, throughout, her adamant determination to avoid "usurpation" by others and remain the protagonist of her own quest.
Now I had graduated on this bright June Saturday in 1959 and few were
the obstacles left between me and my getaway train to Miamiobstacles
that nevertheless must be cunningly surmounted.
"Emma, you ride in front with Earl," said Mother, as expected. "I'll sit in back and reminisce a little more about my time here in Paradise."
"Oh?" challenged Earl. "What does that make the rest of your life, then, a comedown?"
"The rest of my life is still in progress," Mother lightly countered, making room for herself among my college leftovers that were going back to the mountains with them. "Ask me again in thirty or forty years."
We began the winding descent out of Chapel Hill as, seven years earlier, the three of us, with my mother's new husband at the wheel, had begun ...
This is a novel to approach with caution. If you have enjoyed other works by Godwin you might well enjoy this ... however, if you are reading her for the first time you will likely be better served starting with one of her earlier novels which include A Mother and Two Daughters, Violet Clay and Father Melancholy's Daughter.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (628 words).
Gail Godwin published her first novel, The Perfectionists, in about 1970;
since then she's produced 12 novels and a number of short stories, plus her
first volume of memoirs. Her second, and I believe final, volume of
memoirs will be published next year and will cover the years 1963-1970.
She is also working on a novel, The Red Nun.
In an interview, Godwin reveals some of the experiences that inspired Queen of the Underworld, and also explains why she didn't feel compelled to do any field research while writing it:
"During the two years I was writing Queen of the Underworld, I could hardly wait to get to my computer. I loved being 22 and hungry again, with a 22-inch waistline, so desperate to succeed and equally ...
If you liked Queen of the Underworld, try these:
Set in Spain, this is a haunting and beautiful story of one man's brush with terrorism and his quest to find answers.
A luminous novel about love, loss, and the unpredictable power of memory. Winner of the 2005 Booker Prize.
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