House on the Lagoon

Ferre, Rosario. The House on the Lagoon. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 1995.

The House on the Lagoon is a clever story within a story. At the center it tells the tale of Quintin and Isabel Mendizabal. Isabel is trying to become a writer. The House on the Lagoon is her latest project. Multigenerational and historical it sounds a little too much like Quintin and Isabel’s own ancestors and personal history. Quintin, being a historian, finds Isabel’s manuscript and he simply cannot leave it as fiction. He has to edit the historical details and set the record straight. The more he edits the more he realizes the truth about his own marriage. Her unhappiness and his sense of betrayal create a powerful cauldron of simmering disaster.
Ferre’s writing is grand. She writes about a time when grand patriarchs presented their heirs with gifts such as steamships weighing eight thousand tons each. A time when segregation had an unsettling effect on Puerto Ricans. Not used to inequality they worried about the color of their skin not being as pure lily white as their northern neighbors.

Quotes I loved, “If you wanted to know who someone’s relatives were, you only had to visit your grandmother slumbering in her rocking chair, wake her up, and ask her to whisper you her secrets” (p 22), and “A sovereign with shoulders spread like infantry battalions, strong cavalry thighs, and eyes so blue they made you want to sail out to sea” (p 27). Wow. Can you hear me licking my lips right now? Last one – “It wasn’t an easy victory; she had to fight for her bed as if it were a castle under siege” (p 83). Poor woman!

Reason read: In honor of Cinco de Mayo, a little Latin American fiction.

Author trivia: According to Amazon, Ferre was First Lady of Puerto Rico (1970 – 1972) while her father was governor after her mother passed away in 1970.

Book fact: This has nothing to do with House on the Lagoon per se, but my copy was underlined, notated and dog-eared. Someone definitely loved this book more than they should!

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Latin American Fiction” (p 144).

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