Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Reading for our Cuban Honeymoon dream!

Did I mention Mr P and I are off to CUBA for our honeymoon??

We didn't think we'd be able to afford a honeymoon after all the expense of our wedding, but thanks to a VERY generous gift from my parents we are very lucky to be going for two weeks!

We're staying on a 'tourist island' called Cayo Guillermo just to the north of the Cuban mainland, to which it is linked via a causeway. To be honest the prospects of an all inclusive hotel on an island specifically for tourists is something I'd usually run screaming from - but I'm going to embrace it because...
1) It's our honeymoon so relaxing in the sun together will be amazing on its own.
2) It's Mr P's honeymoon too & the only other AI holiday we went on he just LOVED.
3) It's a gift....never look a gift horse as they say.
4) We have some other kind wedding gifts in the form of pennies I hope we can use to explore the mainland too - we are there for 2 weeks!

I'm a BIG reader on holiday - to be honest it's the main time I get to read throughout the year. This will be no exception as it sounds idyllically remote from other distractions, having little internet access. I'm thinking 2 weeks = approx 5 books (one per 3 days ish). I always try to get at least one or two books based in the place we are visiting....so time for a little Cuban literary research. Here's a few possibilities found via a combination of reading wikilists, searching Amazon, Trip Adviser forums and my new find (via Trip Adviser forums) www.tripfiction.com :

Cuba and the night - Pico Iyer

The Setting Is Cuba now, a place of yearnings, a strange place. Its economy wrecked, its revolution gone sour, its isolation almost complete, it lives largely on hopes and dreams -- of sex, of money, of escape to America, Europe, anywhere. In this atmosphere of intense eroticism and frustration a love story develops, one as odd, abandoned, and ambiguous as Cuba itself.

Richard is an American news photographer at an emotional dead end, who has made it through life largely on bravado and a policy of noncommitment. In Havana on assignment, he meets, and at first scarcely notices, a vivacious young cubana named Lourdes, who may -- or may not -- be in search of a foreigner who can help her get out. Gradually, amid a confusion of motives, the two are drawn together in a passionate affair whose poignant outcome surprises both of them -- and us.

This is Pico Iyer's first novel. Viewed purely as a rich, pungent, and unusually intimate description of the daily life and death of Havana, with its frequent electrical blackouts and ubiquitous secret police, it could only be the work of the author of Video Night in Kathmandu and Falling Off the Map. But it is far more. Pico Iyer here also shows himself capable of telling a wonderful story -- romantic yet witty, deeply affecting yet delicately ironic, and completely convincing. Cuba and the Night is a delight. (Amazon Synopsis)

The Woman She Was - Rosa Jordan

Celia Cantú, a pediatrician in Havana, is trying to live a regular life in today's Cuba. She is engaged to her childhood friend Luis and lives with her 16-year-old niece, Liliana. Celia's life is disrupted when Luis's brother, Joe, returns from Miami flaunting his American ways. Joe's arrival and Liliana's adolescent restlessness force Celia to examine the discrepancy between her country's revolutionary ideals and its reality.

As this family drama unfolds, Celia is unnerved by moments when her mind and body seem to be taken over by Celia Sánchez, a heroine of the Revolution and long-time intimate of Fidel Castro. The turbulent past and an undefined future collide when Liliana disappears and Celia sets out into the Cuban countryside in search of her. (Amazon synopsis)

Dreaming in Cuban - Christina Garcia

Here is the dreamy and bittersweet story of a family divided by politics and geography by the Cuban revolution. It is the family story of Celia del Pino, and her husband, daughter and grandchildren, from the mid-1930s to 1980. Celia's story mirrors the magical realism of Cuba itself, a country of beauty and poverty, idealism and corruption. DREAMING IN CUBAN presents a unique vision and a haunting lamentation for a past that might have been. (Tripfiction Synopsis)

Islands in the Stream - Ernest Hemingway

First published in 1970, nine years after Hemingway's death, this is the story of an artist and adventurer -- a man much like Hemingway himself. Beginning in the 1930s, Islands in the Stream follows the fortunes of Thomas Hudson, from his experiences as a painter on the Gulf Stream island of Bimini through his antisubmarine activities off the coast of Cuba during World War II. Hemingway is at his mature best in this beguiling tale.
(Amazon Synopsis)


I think I've decided on the last two in this little list. Islands in the Stream isn't something I'd usually choose but I've read a little of the excerpt they offer on Amazon and the style of writing is actually quite easy-going for a classic - plus the Cuban part of this is actually set in the very place we're staying. I'm hoping a copy might fall upon me if I scour the local charity shops.
The other option i'm going for 'Dreaming in Cuban' sounds more typically me - I love books that bridge many generations and written from a woman's point of view.
My third choice would be 'The Woman she was' but I feel like this might be more Havana based, so maybe a read for my return. Or, when we get to Havana (i'm determined we are doing!) I quite fancy visiting this English book store, which only opened 2 days ago, where I'm sure they'd have a copy or two.

I've also just discovered this fab website called Cuba Absolutely where they have (amongst other things) a What's On Guide for August......Havana carnival weekend of 16th-18th Aug....eek - i hope we can plan a trip to coincide with that!!

Best pack my tatty old travelling back-pack inside our super-snazzy new luggage!

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