Synopses & Reviews
Isadora Tattlin was accustomed to relocating often for her husband’s work. But when he accepted a post in Cuba in the early 1990s, she resolved to keep a detailed diary of her time there, recording her daily experiences as a wife, mother, and foreigner in a land of contraband. The result is a striking, rare glimpse into a tiny country of enormous splendor and squalor. Though the Tattlins are provided with a well-staffed Havana mansion, the store shelves are bare. On the streets, beggars plead for soap, not coins. A vet with few real medical supplies operates on a carved mahogany coffee table in a Louis XIV–style drawing room. The people adore festivity, but Christmas trees are banned. And when Isadora hosts a dinner party whose guest list includes Fidel Castro himself, she observes the ultimate contradiction at the very heart of Cuba. Vividly capturing Cuba’s simultaneously appalling and enchanting essence, Cuba Diaries casts an irresistible spell and lifts the enigma of an island that is trapped in time, but not in spirit.
"Unflinchingly documenting the wild beauty of the landscape, the incredible poverty of the general population, the essential futility of the governmental bureaucracy, and the charming affability of their many Cuban friends and neighbors, she provides an insider's glimpse into a country and a culture that has remained an enigma for the past 40 years." Booklist
"A sensitive fish-out-of-water narrative from a visitor to the dictatorship that history nearly forgot....Tattlin avoids the journal format's inherent solipsism, leaving even her often chilly marital relationship unexamined, and uses the form as a generous lens upon the Cuban people, convincing the reader that after four decades under Castro they deserve an opportunity for self-determination." Kirkus Reviews
"Her writing is clear and lively, her observances astute and witty....But over the course of the book, the people she meets are passive, showing no resistance to Tattlin's questions and curiosity. Readers might get the sense that Tattlin is meeting the same characters time after time." Publishers Weekly
"Always striking, Cuba Diaries is a testament to the human capacity to endure and flourish under terrible conditions." The New York Times Book Review
"Tattlin is a keen observer of this amazing and conflicted country." Entertainment Weekly
An eloquent memoir by an American woman who lived with her family in Havanna for four years that provides a captivating window into both the romantic beauty and tragic deprivation of this country frozen in the 1950s.
About the Author
A native of California, Isadora Tattlin (her pen name) is the wife of a European executive. She lives wherever his business takes them.