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Love and Ghost Letters Hardcover – August 11, 2005

4.9 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Acevedo's debut, a haunting story set in mid-century Cuba and Florida, spans more than 30 years and illuminates the estranged daughter-presumed-dead-father dynamic between Josefina and her police sergeant father, Antonio. When Josefina, predicted from birth to lead an "unhappy and tormented" life, marries the aimless, yet romantic, Lorenzo, she abandons her well-to-do Havana upbringing and moves to impoverished El Cotorro, prompting her father to sever their relationship. As the book progresses through Cuba's torrid history, Antonio is forced to head to El Cotorro to quell a student riot, where he is presumed dead after disappearing and secretly seeking a life of exile in Miami. Once settled, Antonio, needing to reconcile his unsettled relationship with his daughter, writes her letters that she believes have been sent from beyond the grave. Acevedo captures a magical, dreamlike mood, relating Josefina's memories of her nursemaid's stories of saints and rituals, which sets the stage for Lorenzo's transformation into a selfish womanizer and Josefina's predictable love affair with the "guardian angel" her father had sent to watch over her. This multi-layered epic paints an intriguing picture of pre- and post-Castro Cuba and is a promising debut for Acevedo.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

This first novel is a sumptuous, slow, and romantic portrait of a woman in pre-Castro Cuba--Josefina, daughter of a wealthy police sergeant, who runs away to marry a man with few prospects. Her life, once so magical and privileged, is now one of poverty and loneliness as she raises her two children alone while her roaming husband sleeps with one woman after another, largely neglecting his family. Josefina pines for both the luxury she has lost and the romance her husband offers whenever he does come home. Her father is said to have been killed in an uprising, so when she begins receiving letters from him, she believes he is communicating with her from the beyond. Acevedo's juxtaposition of the sergeant's life in Miami, where he has escaped, and Josefina's continually scratched-out existence is especially poignant when her father begins to send her money via the town butcher, who does not tell her he is the source of the "ghost letters." With colorful and well-developed characters, this novel is unrushed and well detailed. Debi Lewis
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (September 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031234046X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312340469
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.2 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,496,553 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Ms. Acevedo has given us a story that works on several levels at once. Set in Cuba and spanning many decades of Cuban life (from the '40s on), we have the story of the luckless Josefina, her womanizing husband, Lorenzo, her stubborn father, a policeman, and several other characters who weave themselves in and out of the principal characters' own story(ies) but, more significantly, is that represented through and by these characters is Cuba's own aimless and meandering attempts to establish for itself a solid identity as a country. Cuban politics play background music to the plight of Josefina and her family; the reader is forced to acknowledge constantly the constant changing face of Cuban life. A Cuban's life is consistently threatened with complete upheaval, literally overnight if the case may be, depending on who has power at the moment. As a microcosm of Cuba's political strife, Josefina's life and the life of her family are emblematic of this constant flux. Josefina is a woman who refuses to take charge of her life and she suffers as a result; she allows things to happen as they will and, because of this passive acquiescence, allows herself to be buffetted about by the winds of fate. Is Josefina's lack of command over her own life a statement concerning Cuba's own inability to chart for itself a stable, reliable, and peaceful destiny for its people? Josefina never seems to fully understand herself as she allows herself to be subsumed by first her father and then her husband. She becomes lost and confused much like Cuba's own history reflects the inability of the country to ever establish for itself a bona fide, concrete identity.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This 2005 novel interested me because it is set in Cuba and the author is a young first-generation American Cuban. I hoped it would further my understanding of the Cuban experience. Yes, the book succeeded in that, but only in some ways because it only spans the years 1933-1959, before the Revolution. There is great wealth and abject poverty but it is not a book about the social issues of the time. Instead, it is about some very memorable human beings.

Josefina was born into wealth, but fell in love with scoundrel of a poor man. Her father was a sergeant in the police force. He loved his daughter dearly and hated her husband. And then, during a student uprising, he was injured and the young woman assumed he was dead. He wasn't dead though. He had taken the ferry to Miami, where he lived for the next 25 years. However, he wrote to her almost daily, never telling her where he was, but just detailing family history. He pays a local butcher to deliver the letters and a take care of the family, and naturally a romance ensues.

Josefina assumes that these were letters from heaven, hence the title of the book.

The family goes through its ups and downs. The husband is often gone for years at a time, the older son is son is growing up too quickly. And the daughter has a wealthy friend she meets in church who has a secret of her own.

I found the book interesting and read the 310 pages in a very short time. It is a good narrative and the writer is a fine storyteller. As a first novel, I think it is well crafted but I did yearn for more complexity and depth in both the story and the writing. I expect this author will grow though and I will definitely be interested in her next book.
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Format: Hardcover
I found this book at a major "wharehouse" type store, had never heard of the author and just picked it up and bought it. What a great read. I actually could not put it down and read it in 2 days while hurricane Wilma was beating my area. Kept me distracted from the rain and wind. The characters are well developed and although there are things that you think "this couldn't happen in real life" you may have a reaction to the characters as you just want to kick their butts for the decisions they make! The charactes are as real as unreal!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Masterpiece. This novel easily deserves to sit beside Anna Karenina and Wuthering Heights as a classic that explores how culture challenges family. This book approaches its subject matter with honesty, nuance, and wit, and strongly develops an incredible backdrop of Cuba's cultural shift pre- to post-Castro that does as much to inform its story as it does to enthrall the reader. Love and Ghost Letters deserves a place on everyone's bookshelf.
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