Synopses & Reviews
Born a slave on the island of Saint-Domingue, Zarité — known as Tété — is the daughter of an African mother she never knew and one of the white sailors who brought her into bondage. Though her childhood is one of brutality and fear, Tété finds solace in the traditional rhythms of African drums and in the voodoo loas she discovers through her fellow slaves.
When twenty-year-old Toulouse Valmorain arrives on the island in 1770, it's with powdered wigs in his baggage and dreams of financial success in his mind. But running his father's plantation, Saint Lazare, is neither glamorous nor easy. It will be eight years before he brings home a bride — but marriage, too, proves more difficult than he imagined. And Valmorain remains dependent on the services of his teenaged slave.
Spanning four decades, Island Beneath the Sea is the moving story of the intertwined lives of Tété and Valmorain, and of one woman's determination to find love amid loss, to offer humanity though her own has been battered, and to forge her own identity in the cruellest of circumstances.
"A remarkable feat of prescience...Island Beneath the Sea is rich in drama, setting, themes, characters, dialogue and symbolism...an intriguing and wonderfully woven story." San Antonio Express-News
"Timely and absorbing...filled with adventure, vivid characters, and richly detailed descriptions of life in the Caribbean." Library Journal
"A lush epic of racism and rebellion which begins in Saint-Domingue (today's Haiti)....In a culture of violence, Tété proves that ingenuity can be as heroic as love." Cathleen Medwick, More magazine
"Exuberant passions, strong heroines and intricate plots...a world as enchanted — and enchanting — as it is brutal and unjust....A page-turning drama." San Francisco Chronicle
"Epic scope and sweep....[Allende's] characters, linked by blood, love triangles and even incest, have a depth and complexity that...imbues the proceedings with a lushness bordering on magic realism." Associated Press
An entrancing and astute storyteller....In a many-faceted plot, Allende animates irresistible characters authentic in their emotional turmoil and pragmatic adaptability...while masterfully dramatizing the psychic wounds of slavery." Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)
"[W]ith gorgeous place descriptions, a keen eye for history and a predilection for high drama....There are few more charming storytellers in the world than Isabel Allende." NPR.org
"Two remarkable women whose destinies are entwined face the chaos of this time [eighteenth century Saint-Domingue]....Uncannily relevant." Corrie Pikul, Elle
"[An] entertaining sweep....The canvas contains no less than the revolutionary history of the world's first black republic....Allende revels in period details....Her cast is equally vibrant." New York Times Book Review
"Enthralling, blood-chilling, and heart-breaking...Island Beneath the Sea is a historical novel which works brilliantly in conveying the cyclone that was the eighteenth century." The Huffington Post
Born a slave on the island of Saint-Domingue — the daughter of an African mother she never knew and a white sailor who brought her into bondage — Zarité, known as Tété, survives a childhood of brutality and fear, finding solace in the traditional rhythms of African drums and in her exhilarating initiation into the mysteries of voodoo.
When twenty-year-old Toulouse Valmorain arrives on the island in 1770, he discovers that running his father's plantation is neither glamorous nor easy. Marriage also proves problematic when, eight years later, he brings home a bride. But it is his teenaged slave, Tété, upon whom Valmorain becomes most dependent, as their lives intertwine across four tumultuous decades.
In Island Beneath the Sea, internationally acclaimed author Isabel Allende spins the unforgettable saga of an extraordinary woman determined to find love amid loss and forge her own identity under the cruelest of circumstances.
About the Author
Isabel Allende is the author of nine novels, translated into more than twenty-seven languages, including the New York Times bestsellers Ines of My Soul, Portrait in Sepia, and Daughter of Fortune. In 2004 she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Born in Peru and raised in Chile, she lives in California.