Cuba Diaries: An American Housewife in Havana

Cuba Diaries: An American Housewife in HavanaNot a dated diary but four years of often eye opening observations from well off American lady that lived in Cuba during the mid 90 s Worth reading for the list of stuff she took with her including 672 rolls toilet paper, 1,200 bottles of wine 1 kilo oregano. My take on this book is probably colored by the fact that I was in Cuba while I was reading it, but I enjoyed this glimpse into Cuban life.Tattlin not her real name is absolutely a privileged ex pat who can jet off to the States or Europe whenever she likes Her life is a little hard to relate to even if we moved to Cuba tomorrow, I can t imagine having six servants and a full time nanny, and I think it s safe to say, Fidel Castro would never come to my house for dinner but her tone is accessible and the stories are really interesting I m most fascinated when she discusses life day to day,than her interactions with some of theflamboyant characters she met She s very upfront about her status, and the glimpses she gives into the lives of her servants are intriguing There s much I m intrigued about that she doesn t cover her husband is clearly powerful and their relationship left me a little confused and I wanted to knowabout how her kids functioned in the Cuban environment but I do feel her book gave me a very readable, fun way to learnabout Cuba The chapters are breezy and short,vignette like than a cohesive memoir But that only made it that much better of a travel book. Isadora Tattlin Was Accustomed To Relocating Often For Her Husband S Work But When He Accepted A Post In Cuba In The Early S, 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 Loved it People looking for a plot clearly missed the title that this is a diary and is written as such The point was to tell about her family s experience in the country through the diary she kept there People who see the author as complaining didn t read it closely enough to realize she was pointing out the issues and imbalance in the society Yes, she goes on about missing tomatoes, but then she talks about how people in the country may have never seen them and how sad that is to her Yes, she gets to have perks most in Cuba will never be able too have, but she is also able to employ people to make wellthan they would otherwise She is able to buy things and be a tourist and help people in the country make some extra money even if just for a little bit Though published in 2002, she is in Cuba from 1995 1998 it seems Pope John Paul II visited there in 1998 , so it was amazing to me to read so many things happening in Cuba then were still the same when I visited there in 2012. One of my ex coworkers, and actually her daughter, who was my ex boss are from Cuba From them I always hear the tales of nostalgia for their beloved island and wonderful it is I always heard complaints of how attending cultural events is so expensive here, but in Cuba everything is free Cuba has beautiful parks, beaches, etc.Riiiiight Add in the lack of many basic foods, the lack of consumer goods that are used in households daily, the lack of shoes, underwear, clothing.Also add in the lack of freedom of expression in aforementioned cultural events, the difficulty of procuring basic necessities, the numerous whores roaming the streets for sexual tourists, the fact that ANYBODY will take whatever they can get from younow we are starting to build an idea of what Cuba is like.The author of this book is an American living in Cuba who goes there because of her husband s job She documents all of her difficulties as well as the way she falls in love with certain aspects of the island Very eye opening, in my opinion There s even a meeting with Castro.Love the use of lists throughout the book. As a Spanish teacher, I am ALWAYS intrigued and fascinated by Hispanic Latino culture from around the world.Cuba, especially, has always fascinated me My dear aunt escaped Cuba in the 1960s with her family at the age of 5.Having married my mother s much younger brother, she and I have always been close, spending our 20s, 30s andtogether.The stories from her family are absolutely outrageousthough sadly, all very true.My aunt and I have always shared books and so in our quest for a good read as of late, we came across Cuba Diaries and decided we would read it together It was an amazing journey for me..the author tells her tale in a series of diary entries than span 4 years I could not put the book down For my aunt, it was a personal journey and needless to say she did a lot of crying and had a ton of Ah ha moments.The book is wonderful for the Cuban American, like my aunt..and for the plain old American, like me, just as well I had very little sympathy for this housewife living in Havana married to a wealthy diplomat She speaks of the troubles in Havana while her servants stand in line to get her food and the seemingly disingenuous relationships with her friends and neighbors Just because she lived in Cuba during the special period doesn t mean she understood the real struggles of what the people were going through She complains of not having fish and vegetables for dinner when Cubans were complaining of not having dinner And her passivity to her husbands verbal abuse were just plain sad.Get some perspective lady. Isadora Tattlin is a pseudonym and most of the names in her Cuba Diaries have been changed However, this takes nothing away from the extraordinary insights into life in Cuba during the late 90 s and the periodo especial en tiempo de paz special period in time of peace immediately after the withdrawal of economic subsidies from the Soviet Union.Her love hate relationship with Cuba over four years has been documented with shopping lists, brief political discussions, history lessons and loads of observations and day to day stories.Yes, Tattlin was living a privileged life in Cuba, but then again, most visitors to Cuba would fit that category, especially during the 90 s.Her husband worked as an executive for an unnamed European energy company and they mixed in exalted company, eventually having Fidel Castro himself to dinner a couple of times in their final year in Cuba.Tattlin s obsession with shopping of the art and jewellery and furniture variety wore a bit thin by the end, but her daily observations the everyday fears, worries and delights of living in a foreign country were captured succinctly and sincerely.As a future visitor to Cuba, I lapped up every word.Full review here There s no doubt that Isadora Tattlin a pseudonym was a privileged foreigner in Cuba She spent four years living in Havana with her husband, a native of an unmentioned country and employee of an international energy consulting firm Upon arrival in Cuba she felt it necessary to have hundreds of pounds of household supplies shipped in from outside the country to supplement the meager goods available locally She lived in a house that ordinary Cubans could only dream of and was assisted by a houseful of servants I wanted to dislike Isadora for being an ugly American, but I couldn t Her diary is candid and engaging She has no overt political motivation for judging the Cuban state or its people In her travels around the island we see a land that is breathtaking in its natural beauty, deprived of material goods, with citizens living in isolated penury.

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  • Paperback
  • 320 pages
  • Cuba Diaries: An American Housewife in Havana
  • Isadora Tattlin
  • English
  • 08 April 2019
  • 9780767914840

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