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Before the Rain: A Memoir of Love and Revolution Hardcover – August 7, 2012
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Exclusive Author Essay by Luisita Lopez Torregrosa
Little did I know on a bone-freezing day in January, now a quarter-century ago, that I would gamble on an improbable chase after an illusion halfway around the globe. A gamble that would completely transform my life.
There was a touch of insanity, I have to say, in my decision to break away from an established career, to give up everything to follow a striking and inaccessible young woman who, as chance would have it, was seeking her own way in the world.
That is the heart of the matter in Before the Rain. The story revolves around a magnificent affair that defied social conventions, an edgy and obsessive relationship played out against the tumult of a revolution. It begins in a chaotic Manila, with the People Power revolution of 1986 which overthrew the twenty-year rule of Ferdinand E. Marcos.
Before the Rain evokes in palpable detail the exuberant mood of the revolution, the ecstatic hope of the Filipinos, the bloody coup attempts, and the bizarre legacy that Marcos and his wife, Imelda, left. The cast includes rogue colonels, undercover American operatives, coup plotters who are millionaires, and a clique of foreign correspondents who thrive in a state of high alert, running from bed to bedlam, making backroom deals, and sometimes backstabbing competitors. The days of constant crisis are lightened by the evenings of camaraderie, sexual escapades, star-crossed affairs, and late-night rounds by the pool at the Manila Hotel.
Hemingway once said to a friend, "If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast." Manila was our Paris.
“Before the Rain takes us to the exotic and pillaged places of the earth, through rain-swept streets and wine-soaked nights and into the hearts of two passionate, revolutionary women who dared to love and lose; and lived to dare again. A wild, brave, truthful story.”
--Carole DeSanti, author of The Unruly Passions of Eugénie R
“What is more exotic and unknowable than love? … Spare, precise and soulful, Before the Rain is an epic travelogue of the heart. It has the urgency of a front page news story, but then, no matter what is happening in the world, love is always revolutionary when it happens to you.”
-Bob Morris, author of Assisted Loving
"A friendship between two journalists covering the Philippines Revolution of 1986 deepens into a passionate, far-flung love affair in this serenely capable work...as Torregrosa fashions in her oblique and beautiful fashion, the two women could never really acknowledge their love publicly, underscoring a sad truth to this memorable work."
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Top Customer Reviews
It is necessary to comment that only in the past decade or so has it become possible for a memoir about a same-sex relationship to be shared in any way, let alone honestly and passionately. This year, after all, has seen the final elimination of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in the US Military, as well as the acknowledgement by a sitting President that he believes same-sex marriage should be accepted legally.
Obviously, though at least part of the tension and conflict between Luisita and Elizabeth was due to the social attitudes towards lesbian relationships (a term never used in this book, by the way) during the decade covered in the narrative, Torregrosa makes it clear that this was not the main issue. It is obvious that the usual challenges ANY relationship faces - conflicting schedules, communication problems, cultural differences, and so on - are likewise present in same-gender pairings. To some extent, this memoir challenged a perception I've developed from observation of friends that same-gender pairings could "cool" from passion to friendship without the nastiness and rancor that so often accompanies heterosexual divorce.Read more ›
Mostly though, it is about the author's love affair which lived, thrived and finally ended after more than a decade of living and loving and experiencing political changes throughout the world. The author is never explicit in her physical descriptions of the relationship but the writing itself is sensual enough to give the reader an honest view into the love between them as it changes and slowly disintegrates,
Through the years these women make their homes in a many different places and the reader gets to experience it in all the little details that define their existence such as the plants and flowers, the furniture and the geography around them whether it is a hotel room, a city apartment or a rambling country house which requires several servants. All are all described without a wasted word.
This book is only 228 pages long and a fast read that plunged me into a time and a place of upheaval, both in the world and in the author's personal life. I thoroughly recommend it.
What drew me to this book was both the lgbt element and the historical aspect. Coming into it, I knew practically nothing about the history of the Philippines, and learning about that history as a backdrop for a touching romance sounded like perfection. Having read the last page of this memoir, though, I do not feel that I know much more than I did when I started, other than now knowing a couple of names of political figures.
This autobiography should, more accurately, be subtitled simply A Memoir of Love, as there is little of revolution. The focus lies almost entirely upon the relationship between Luisita and Elizabeth. While that's fine, the book's description prepared me for something with a broader scope. History receives only the barest treatment, insomuch as it separated the two lovers, as both are reporters and had to travel to cover various events.
I would expect, though, that I would have a very strong picture of Luisita and Elizabeth in my head, since they are the focus, that I would have a good sense of their bond. Alas, I do not. I feel like Torregrosa keeps the audience at a distance from them. She clues us in on the big events of their romance, but does not let us in on any of the small details that really make a life. For all that she is proudly discussing her lesbian relationship, I found it surprising that we never get any sense of their sexual life at all. For all the talk of their intense passion, only a couple of kisses and hugs are mentioned.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Beautifully written; wide range of emotions; does not disappoint. Torregrossa elegantly writes with apparent ease of her internal emotions enabling the reader to live the ups and... Read morePublished on January 4, 2013 by Kristen N.
It seems that it is `all about the drama'...how this love story memoir evolved between Luisita and Elizabeth... Read morePublished on December 24, 2012 by An Educated Consumer
It is a detailed and poetic flashback throughout the world and journalism during political events. Exciting yet so romantic. Its definitely a must read! Read morePublished on December 7, 2012 by Alex
Before the Rain is an incredibly beautiful work of literary art. Written with such honesty, I felt like a close friend trusted with the most secret and sacred moments of another... Read morePublished on October 29, 2012 by Crystal
This is a beautiful book about the intricacies of, sure, a same sex relationship but also back stories of revolution and journalism in a place I knew very little about. Read morePublished on October 27, 2012 by Nancy F.
To be honest I didn't enjoy this book much, but I give the author a lot of credit for writing something different and original in the current rather bland publishing environment. Read morePublished on October 24, 2012 by Zinnia
I feel I should get a medal for actually finishing this book. It was a long, hard, journey. One night, I just sat & finished not because I enjoyed it (really, I wanted to put it... Read morePublished on October 3, 2012 by Amazon Customer
Before the Rain is a fairly dull memoir-ish novel about a woman's affair with a journalist colleague which spans close to a decade and several mostly Asian localities. Read morePublished on October 1, 2012 by Steve
Torregrosa's memoir is difficult for me to describe. While it tells the story of her relationship with Elizabeth and their time together, a portion of it is also spent depicting... Read morePublished on August 28, 2012 by Tina Says