Conquistadora by Esmeralda Santiago

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An epic novel of love, discovery, and adventure by the author of the best-selling memoir When I Was Puerto Rican.

As a young girl growing up in Spain, Ana Larragoity Cubillas is powerfully drawn to Puerto Rico by the diaries of an ancestor who traveled there with Ponce de León. And in handsome twin brothers Ramón and Inocente—both in love with Ana—she finds a way to get there. She marries Ramón, and in 1844, just eighteen, she travels across the ocean to a remote sugar plantation the brothers have inherited on the island.

Ana faces unrelenting heat, disease and isolation, and the dangers of the untamed countryside even as she relishes the challenge of running Hacienda los Gemelos. But when the Civil War breaks out in the United States, Ana finds her livelihood, and perhaps even her life, threatened by the very people on whose backs her wealth has been built: the hacienda’s slaves, whose richly drawn stories unfold alongside her own. And when at last Ana falls for a man who may be her destiny—a once-forbidden love—she will sacrifice nearly everything to keep hold of the land that has become her true home.

This is a sensual, riveting tale, set in a place where human passions and cruelties collide: thrilling history that has never before been brought so vividly and unforgettably to life.

From the Hardcover edition.

About Esmeralda Santiago

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Esmeralda Santiago is the author of two memoirs, When I Was Puerto Rican and The Turkish Lover, and the novel Conquistadora. A resident of Westchester County, New York, she is married to filmmaker Frank Cantor and is the mother of two adult children, jazz guitarists Lucas and Ila.
Published July 12, 2011 by Vintage. 434 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Conquistadora

Kirkus Reviews

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Early on, we find Ana exploring “the new sensations in her body, but [she] envisioned God frowning whenever she brushed her fingers against her budding breasts to feel the pleasure at the touch, so even her thoughts were forbidden.” Soon enough, we find her entertaining both brothers in flagrante...

Apr 05 2011 | Read Full Review of Conquistadora

The New York Times

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Esmeralda Santiago’s heroine, a feminist before her time, runs a sugar plantation in 19th-century Puerto Rico.

Jul 15 2011 | Read Full Review of Conquistadora

Publishers Weekly

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Santiago (When I Was Puerto Rican) brings passion, color, and historical detail to this Puerto Rican Gone with the Wind, featuring a hard-as-nails heroine more devoted to her plantation than to any of the men in her life.

Mar 21 2011 | Read Full Review of Conquistadora

Washington Independent Review of Books

“By the work of their hands, the might of their swords” becomes a mantra for Ana, even if Santiago uses the phrase but once: Ana is prepared to do anything and everything to successfully run Hacienda Los Gemelos, a sugar plantation in Puerto Rico that falls into her hands through her marriage to ...

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Dallas News

Ana Cubillas would like to be a conquistador like her ancestors, but she was born a few centuries too late — and a woman.

Jul 22 2011 | Read Full Review of Conquistadora

Denver Post

Instead, once Ana lands in the lush and perilous island that is mid-19th-century Puerto Rico, the tempo and the virtuosic writing accelerate.

Aug 10 2011 | Read Full Review of Conquistadora

Review (Barnes & Noble)

But when they appear, as in this passage describing Ana and Ramón's young son after a bedtime story, they show that Santiago is capable of giving deeper refreshment: He felt heavy and at the same time light, as if he were floating over the streets of San Juan.

Jul 26 2011 | Read Full Review of Conquistadora

Bookmarks Magazine

(I have an established proclivity for historical novels that begin in convents!) Ana’s story, as every feisty convent girl’s life story should, begins and ends with rebellion: those journals belong to an ancestor of hers who journeyed to Puerto Rico with Ponce de Leon, and when Ana travels there ...

Jul 17 2011 | Read Full Review of Conquistadora

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Enjoy three fun-filled days of activities — and don't-miss concerts by The Temptations, The Four Tops and Shania Twain.

Jul 08 2011 | Read Full Review of Conquistadora

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