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The Cuban Chronicles: A True Tale of Rascals, Rogues, and Romance Paperback – November 23, 2011
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Unless you live in south Florida most Americans know very little about Cuba, it is just a small communist controlled island some 90 miles off shore. In many ways it is the last bastion on the cold war. Since the early 1960's the island was been off limits to the average American. It's only other claim to fame is being home to the infamous Guantanamo Bay prison camp where over 300 terrorists are currently being detained. Wanda St. Hilaire is a Canadian, and as such, Cuba is a fairly popular tourist destination. Wanda is a successful business person who has a penchant for travel, and some pretty interesting theories on men and love. The last minute cancellation of of vacation to Mexico leaves Wanda in a quandary, and in a snap decision decides to explore the wonders of Cuba, the culture, and of course the men!
The Cuban Chronicles is written in a `Dear Diary' fashion, part travelogue, part musings about the past, and part a self analysis of her needs and wants.
Wanda leads us gently into the exotic island of Cuba, the Prisoners Paradise Island as she calls it at one point. Cuba is an enigma, while the government calls it a workers paradise, it is far from it. On her first visit to Cuba Wanda views the the island through some rose colored glasses, finding the good and skillfully avoiding the seamier aspects, or at least downplaying them.
It is on this visit that she meets a Cuban man, Paulo, ruggedly handsome, the die are cast. Wanda quickly finds herself at the mercy of her Latin lover. Returning to Canada they maintain a long distance love affair via the phone and occasional email. There is to be a much anticipated reunion over the Christmas holiday with Wanda once more returning to Cuba, this time though the plan is not to stay in a hotel, but rather a private rented apartment.
Even before leaving for the Christmas of a lifetime Wanda is beginning to have some misgivings, little things are beginning to bother her. Paulo is most certainly a taker rather than a giver, he has some great plans for the vacation, but all seem to rest on Wanda's money.
I don't think I need to explain the plot any further, suffice it to say that dream vacation rapidly descended into Dante's Inferno. Paulo clearly viewed Wanda as his meal ticket out of Cuba, a not uncommon occurrence not just in Cuba, but parts of eastern Europe and Asia. Through air travel and the internet we live in an every shrinking world. Predators abound. In Wanda's case it was male, but there are an equal number of females attempting the same escape route.
The Cuba Chronicles is an interesting book, and one that operates on several levels. You can read it as a straight story, a novel of an independent woman's view on life, almost the book version of `Sex and the city', with scandalous hijinks going on. You can also read it and see the darker side of human nature at work. It was this view that I took. Caveat Emptor, buyer beware, when engaging in long distance love affairs.
My wife and I have many online friends, and we have a few that just never seem to learn the dangers. Every few months we hear some new tale of woe, some great love affair from afar that has become derailed. The international financier with a private jet and houses across the globe is actually an unemployed bum sponging off his aging mother, the fashion model, with pictures to prove it, is some toothless hag with 5 children and on government assistance. Oh and of course the all time favorite.... HE'S MARRIED!
Read this book, it will open your eyes.
You can order your copy from Amazon. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Author
Wanda St.HilaireThe Cuban Chronicles, A True Tale of Rascals, Rogues, and Romance * Why did you decide to write this book? As a true Sagittarian wanderer, I have had many adventures in different parts of the world. While in Cuba, I was outlining a travel memoir about a love affair with a Frenchman I'd met in Portugal. At the same time, I was chronicling my adventures, thoughts and observations in a typical letter to a cherished friend in Paris. After meeting a charming Cuban journalist on the streets of Havana, the letter grew. I dubbed it The Cuban Chronicles. Other friends wanted to read the letter and begged for more. "Turn it into a book!" they'd implore. "If my second trip holds enough material, I'll do it," I promised. And it did. * Do you have any secret writing tips you'd like to share? I can procrastinate with the best of them. For many years, I had the excuse of my busy sales position. How could I possibly switch every day from left brain to right brain under the pressures of a hectic job that took me all over the province? A couple of tips that worked well for me was firstly, to set aside the time each day, no excuses. I went to my local Second Cup each morning for my latte and I wrote, no matter my mood, my schedule, or my inspiration level. The second tip is to use holiday time to go away and get into "The Zone." I am fortunate that I can and like to travel alone. This affords me the luxury of clearing my mind and easing the monkey mind (the incessant chatter). I utilize my vacations in places I love for the really creative part of my writing. * Have you ever battled writer's block? How do you deal with it? Even if I feel like hell, I can always work on some part of the book. Maybe I do a little online research, maybe organize the structure, or maybe just put pen to paper and jot random ideas down in a journal. * What's your favorite quote? Well-behaved women seldom make history. - Laurel Thatcher Ulrich * Who inspires you the most? Ernest Hemingway is my hero, a master gypsy-rogue. In spite of harsh criticism, he lived life on his own terms. His life, more than his books, have influenced me. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
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This book is formatted as a diary-letter to Wanda's good friend, Monique, and we don't have an all knowing narrator, but a writer who is sharing events as she experiences them. It creates an unfolding drama that draws the reader into the tale.
It all starts off with a first trip to Cuba. This trip is a wonderful experience where many men court her and it is a flurry of dancing and flirting. While she is there she meets a suave journalist named Pablo that to all appearance is a fine gentleman. He is so wonderful; Wanda decides she will spend Christmas with this new opportunity.
Absence reveals the strangest things. Her knight in shining armor becomes needy and pleading when they are apart and Wanda begins to wonder about this new Romeo. Despite her doubt, she goes to Cuba again. There, things take a terrible turn.
This is both an interesting story and a warning to would be travelers. It is very fascinating to mentally go with a person and experience Cuba first hand. Americans are still not welcomed and I was eager to know what life is like in Castro's Cuba. Like any Communist country, it is a place of poverty and despair for the actual people. Natives watch as tourists live a life they can never have. It creates a society of desperate men who want to latch onto richer foreign.
This is also a tale that warns single girls about the perils of dating. Travel, the internet, and phone services connects women to men from all over the world and many want to date these exciting men who are so different from the guys in their home country. However, there is also a chance of women being put in dangerous situations and this story is an example of how things can go wrong.
I enjoyed the book but it was slightly confusing. It was written as a letter to an old friend and Wanda refers to people and events that Monique must know but the reader doesn't understand. I also would have liked to have more details about the country itself, but it is an interesting read and I do recommend it.
Through it all, St. Hilaire and the reader learn a lot about Cuba. Many of her observations reinforced or explained my own later experiences there.
Part memoir, part travelogue and all round great entertainment. I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in Cuba as it exists today and those who like true stories of women's adventures in exotic locales.
What this story really does well is set the scene and deliver the essence of who she is. Wanda sets out on a trip to Cuba and she invites the reader into her timeline with descriptive and eventful writing. Wanda's Cuban adventure is a great ride for those who have never been to Cuba and even for those who know the country well. The honesty within the words of what it is to be a foreigner in Cuba shines through in her writing. The whirlwind of Wanda's romantic flirtations with many men finally ends up with her and Paulo together. But she doesn't live in Cuba... so the journey continues with a return to Cuba and the drama really heats up.
This is as much a travel journal as it is a romantic story as it is a dramatic nail-biter in some spots. It is a very enjoyable story to read and fascinating slice of life.
I read alot, I travel alot and I love to people watch. The Cuban Chronicles was quite simply, a perfect read.
Most recent customer reviews
wouldnt mind if someone did a part two???Read more