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Love and Ghost Letters: A Novel Paperback – September 19, 2006
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“[An] exceptionally fine first novel…. Acevedo shapes each of her characters with clear-eyed reverence, guiding their steps in measured, lyrical prose that is often breath-taking, exquisite…. And this is the author's genius: the line she walks between fact and fairy tale, history and wistful story, the magic that radiates, naturally, from the quirks and coincidences of daily life and what is (often) too easily celebrated--or dismissed--as otherworldly, supernatural.” ―A. Manette Ansay for The Chicago Tribune
“Acevedo is a fine storyteller…. [Love and Ghost Letters] unfolds with a leisurely pleasure that feels like magic realism.” ―Christian Science Monitor
“Acevedo, a first-generation Cuban-American, lyrically illustrates the changing social, economic and political landscape in this tumultuous period in Cuba's history. She has filled her novel with enchanting details, down to the red, white and blue paper roses at that first society dance and the recipes Josefina's nanny concocts to make Lorenzo faithful to his wife.” ―Miami Herald
“[Acevedo's] writing is luscious, painting beautifully tragic pictures. Love and Ghost Letters takes a hard look at how closely wedded love and money are, without turning away from the ugliness of social inequality. The magic of the narrative is in the weaving of the personal with the public with such a poetic sensibility and fluidity of style that the reader is completely submerged into the trials of a Cuban family and the contradictions of Cuban society.” ―South Florida Sun-Sentinel
“...a quirky, charming story of filial love...a distinctly Latin mystique and a style of writing that juxtaposes the mysterious and the mundane.” ―Miami Today
“Love and Ghost Letters is an enchanting novel; a heartfelt story, it tells volumes about the intimate life and loves of a family in pre-Castro Cuba. Along the way, it captures, beautifully, the atmosphere and emotions of a time which, both Cuban Americans and many an American reader, will find both reminiscent and fulfilling. A great debut.” ―Oscar Hijuelos, author of The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love: A Novel and A Simple Habana Melody
About the Author
Chantel Acevedo is a first-generation Cuban-American whose childhood combined American modernity with traditional Cuban values. She attended the M.F.A. creative writing program at the University of Miami on a James Michener Fellowship. She has won two Fulbright Awards for secondary education.
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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.