The Distant Marvels: Book summary and reviews of The Distant Marvels by Chantel Acevedo

The Distant Marvels

by Chantel Acevedo

The Distant Marvels by Chantel Acevedo
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  • Published in USA  Apr 2015
    304 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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Book Summary

Maria Sirena tells stories. She does it for money - she was a favorite in the cigar factory where she worked as a lettora - and for love, spinning gossamer tales out of her own past for the benefit of friends, neighbors, and family. But now, like a modern-day Scheherazade, she will be asked to tell one last story so that eight women can keep both hope and themselves alive.

Cuba, 1963. Hurricane Flora, one of the deadliest hurricanes in recorded history, is bearing down on the island. Seven women have been forcibly evacuated from their homes and herded into the former governor's mansion, where they are watched over by another woman, a young soldier of Castro's new Cuba named Ofelia.

Outside the storm is raging and the floodwaters are rising. In a single room on the top floor of the governor's mansion, Maria Sirena begins to tell the incredible story of her childhood during Cuba's Third War of Independence; of her father Augustin, a ferocious rebel; of her mother, Lulu, an astonishing woman who fought, loved, dreamed, and suffered as fiercely as her husband. Stories, however, have a way of taking on a life of their own, and transported by her story's momentum, Maria Sirena will reveal more about herself than she or anyone ever expected.

Chantel Acevedo's The Distant Marvels is an epic adventure tale, a family saga, a love story, a stunning historical account of armed struggle against oppressors, and a long tender plea for forgiveness. It is, finally, a life-affirming novel about the kind of love that lasts a lifetime and the very art of storytelling itself.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Irresistible moments of rebellion and bravery define this tale. Perfect timing for a Scheherazade-style account of Cuban history." - Kirkus

"Starred Review. This is a major, uniquely powerful, and startlingly beautiful novel that should bring Acevedo's name to the top echelon of this generation's writers." - Booklist

"Chantel Acevedo is one of the most versatile and exciting writers of her generation, with a voice that speaks not only to the American experience, but to our universal humanity. I fall for her characters, whole-heartedly, while being covetous of her stunning prose." - Julianna Baggott, author of the Pure trilogy

"Exquisitely rendered ... The Distant Marvels is a Thousand and One Nights-style surrender to the true art of story telling." - Ana Castillo, author of The Guardians

"The Distant Marvels is a compelling, gorgeously-written epic about Cuban women as fierce as the storms and the hardships they endure. Every scene, every detail, every utterance and intimacy feels richly, enchantingly true." - Cristina Garcia, author of Dreaming in Cuban

"I loved The Distant Marvels ... Acevedo's language is liquid and gathering, mirroring the great ebb and swell of political struggle, transcending love, as well as the events that have gathered the storyteller, María Sirena, and her audience together under one brilliantly constructed 'roof.'" - Ru Freeman, author of On Sal Mal Lane

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Chantel Acevedo was born in Miami to Cuban parents. She is the author of A Falling Star, winner of the Doris Bakwin Award; and, Love and Ghost Letters, winner of the Latino International Book Award. She is currently an Associate Professor of English at Auburn University, Alabama, where she founded the Auburn Writers Conference and edits the Southern Humanities Review.

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