Sunday, October 30, 2011

Like mother like daughter?

This story revolves around the famous poet Salomé Ureña and her daughter Camila Salomé. It is a book written from two perspectives and each chapter exchanges between both point of views. There was a consensus that the story was a little confusing at the beginning, but once you understand what's happening in terms of who's who in the story and the direction and layout of the book, it really becomes more of a page-turner.

The book lend itself to a great discussion about this historical figure who led such a tragic love story in spite of being influential in providing education for women in the Dominican Republic and for inspiring a whole group of revolutionaries in the nation. Her daughter Camila, who never really gets to know her mother, has a different upbringing, with no permanent maternal figure and ultimately caregiving her father. She seems to be looking for her own identity and can't seem to really find it until her last years of life. 

It's interesting to hear how Julia Alvarez got interested in writing this book from her website:

From the moment I heard the story of Salomé Ureña, I was intrigued. Born in 1850 to a humble family, this young woman of mixed race managed to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to become la musa de la patria. But her fame came with a high personal price: a tragic love story, an early death. One thing leads to another when you're writing: in the process of researching Salomé's life, I discovered that her only daughter, Camila, taught Spanish for years at Vassar College and during the summers at Middlebury College, where I am now a writer-in-residence. In 1960, Camila, then 63, gave up tenure and headed for Cuba to join a literacy brigade—an inexplicable and extraordinary choice for a woman who seemed very settled in her quiet, academic life. You wouldn't know it from reading the official stories, but Latin America has had its share of amazing women.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

I really enjoyed the format too, it was like they moving towards one another, which I found to be touching given where the story begins.