Camilo Cienfuegos is not a name I knew but this novel brings him to life, his role as a key man in Castro s revolution and his mysterious disappearance after his small Cessna went missing in 1959 The historical aspects of Fidel, Raul and Camilo were the highlight as was the twist towards the end The story revolves around Clare Miller, an American photographer who had a sex driven relationship with Camilo in New York before he joined Castro She believes he died in the early days of Castro s return to Cuba She moved on marrying an older man, a rich Cuban, living in Havana with the daughter she had with Camilo Castro is triumphant, Camilo is part of his inner group and both Camilo and Clare are very happy to reunite There s lots of bed hopping, then the fatal flight and a fictional account of what may have happened.This is an easy read full of the tension of the early days of Castro s rule. I love books that give me a side of history that I may not typically be familiar with, and John Thorndike s account of Clare and Camillo is human and heartbreaking A Hundred Fires in Cuba will stick with you long after you have turned the last page. I meant that when you died, I had to live with that forever I thought it was forever My heart s still damaged, because in it you re dead Here you are, alive, but I have to catch up A Hundred Fires in Cuba by John Thorndike is the fictional story of Clare Miller, an American photographer married to a wealthy Cuban business tycoon in Havana, a man she d settled for after a whirlwind affair with the prominent and revered revolutionary Camilo Cienfuegos left her pregnant and alone at a time when such circumstances were unthinkable When news reaches Clare that Cienfuegos is actually alive, Clare is confronted with the difficult choice of remaining in a marriage with the man who believes her young daughter, Alameda, was conceived by a wayward Puerto Rican, or seeking out a love she d lost but never truly gave up on, in a charismatic legend of a man who is as difficult to hold on to as water in the hand A Hundred Fires in Cuba is a vivid and wonderfully written book that highlights a time and era when Cuba was at the apex of change, focusing on a woman caught in the crosshairs of men who are the antithesis of the other a capitalist and a communist And while Camilo Cienfuegos is central to the story, it is Clare who is our worthy protagonist, and it is through the narrative of her life that John Thorndike offers us a glorious view of the personal trials experienced in the midst of public timult I absolutely adore this book It has romance with perfectly fleshed out characters, dramatic scenery, tension, and all the right history to appeal to a wide readership And while I have always been intrigued by Cienfuegos himself, it is Clare that I was grateful to have in the driver seat of this brilliantly engrossing story.Review written for Readers Favorite. I am not very familiar with Cuban history Yet, I enjoy reading historical books Although, like many Americans I am familiar with the name Fidel Castro Yet, as the book summary states, I am not familiar with the name Camilo Cienfuegos.Instantly, I could tell that Mr Thorndike is a talented writer Right from the beginning, I was transported to Cuba from the descriptions of the scenery to the people From the first introduction, I became a fan of Clare She had a feisty spirit, even through she was in a foreign country Plus, she came off as kind and the type of person that I would want to hang out with Her and Camilo s relationship was filled with real love Sure, Camilo could have any woman or women that he wanted but the first time that they had sex he was actually aware of Clare s feelings Additionally, this book shows the relationship between Camilo and Castro with Castro s rise into power Anyone looking to read a really good book that is rich in storytelling as well as the people should pick up a copy of this book. In The Spring Of , A Young American Photographer Falls In Love With A Cuban Line Cook In New York They Have A Ten Week Affair Which Ends When Immigration Arrests And Deports Him, And By Then Clare Miller Is Pregnant Few Americans Know The Name Camilo Cienfuegos All Cubans Do He Was The Most Charismatic Of Castro S Rebel Commanders But Clare, Who Never Hears From Him After He S Deported, Believes He Has Died In Fidel S Invasion Of The Island She Marries A Wealthy Cuban Businessman And Moves To Havana With Her Two Year Old Daughter, Only To Discover That Her First Love Is Not Only Still Alive, He S Now Head Of The Cuban Army Clare Knows That Camilo Likes To Dance And Drink He Likes Women, And Too Many Women Like Him Though His Courage Is Legendary, When He Comes To Visit At Night He S Afraid Of His Daughter S Moods He Feeds Her, He Reads To Her, He Changes Her Diapers, But For Him An All Night March Would Be Easier Clare Worries That He Ll Never Make A Good Parent, But She Cannot Resist Him Reviewed by Ben Green for Reader Views 07 18 A Hundred Fires in Cuba is an excellent read Actually, let me just put this out there right from the start A Hundred Fires in Cuba by John Thorndike is one of the best books I have ever reviewed for Reader Views and is well deserving of the five stars I am giving it.The story is mostly set in late 1950s Cuba and told from the perspective of the main character Clare, a photojournalist who finds herself in a love triangle between a Cuban business man and the father of her child, Camilo Cienfuegos, who also happens to be one of Castro s head commanders While both Clare and Camilo are well written and interesting characters, so are many of the other supporting characters In fact, almost everyone is interesting.The plot sounds simple enough, but it is so well done that at no point do you even consider that this story has been told a thousand times before Thorndike creates such believable and interesting characters and settings that the plot moves along smoothly without issue or feeling repetitive In fact, I made it all the way through the first five chapters before I started to think this might actually be a romance To be fair romance is a big part of the story but it is the less interesting part and really just works as a tool to move this character around this well written world.It is hard to explain just how well this book is written Thorndike transports the reader into newly liberated Cuba right at the coming of power of Fidel Castro He uses this historical backdrop to really bring the characters to life The small details in both the characters and setting make every moment believable Historically the book seems genuine and accurate As well, the dialogue fits the time and unlike so many historical fictions, it never seems like Thorndike is overworking to remind you when and where these characters live.In conclusion, I guess what I am trying to say is this is an excellent read which you should really take the time to check out It is clearly written by a mature author who knows what he is doing and isn t concerned with impressing the reader with the cheap tricks that often fill books of this type Everything here is well done the character, the setting, the dialogue, the story, and pacing all work well together To restate what I said at the beginning, A Hundred Fires in Cuba by John Thorndike is a five star read, and one of the best books I have reviewed in a long time. Halfway historical, halfway fiction, A Hundred Fires in Cuba blends them well for the most part Hope you like practicing your Spanish because there s plenty of it peppered within the text Sometimes it s translated for you, sometimes not.From the writing alone, you can understand how Camillo can be idolized today and how he has escaped some of the harsher criticism given to Castro s other subordinates It may not be realistic, a bit like a warm caricature of him at times, but enough of his famous characteristics are there to distinguish him A marvelous addition to the scary political tension that set Castro s rise to power Many historical narratives often include some preaching of modern morals from the author due to hindsight A Hundred Fires in Cuba is tastefully written to avoid a good majority of that If it s in there, it s because a character is saying this not the author So I appreciated that.On the fictional side, though, I had mixed feelings It s a flawed love triangle of impulsive passion and mostly one sided sentiments Clare was explained so quickly to us in the story that she ended up feeling a bit dry I know she s a bold wildstar, an independent, working, and stubborn single mother, but her flaws were too much for me to really like her And she s meant to be the emotional glue that unites history with fiction Yeah, that s a unsettling disconnect Especially when it came to the second half of the book, and it felt like Clare s development petered out to me rather than fleshing out Which is unfortunate to me since I liked what her presence added to the historical sections of the narrative.While I had reservations with Clare, it was the other fictional characters who kept me empathetic to the emotional aspects of the story s setting Clare s daughter, Ala, and her wily instance for Spanish only responses Domingo and his prudent and luxurious lifestyle clashing with Camillo s macho and rebellious beliefs Eliseo and his intense car chats Engracia and her talk of goddesses Debbie and her youthful desire to raise a child contrasting with Rosa and her bittersweet care taking It s a rich world of characters who keep the reader aware of how the Cuban and North American societies reacted to the revolution A Hundred Fires in Cuba had an awkward start to me, but it gradually worked its way to being a charming if somber story of Camillo and his fame If you aren t aware of him right now, you ll probably learn something new Personally, I liked the first half better than the heavily fictional second half But the ending was given a proper build up and delivery it didn t feel too rushed and leaves with a hopeful exit Within a setting marked by distrust and death, it is a worthwhile conclusion for me Give this a try if Cuban historical fiction tickles your fancy.I received the book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. John Thorndike s A Hundred Fires of Cuba is a novel where the growth of the characters and the movement of the story are driven like a harnessed pair It takes place in the time of Fidel Castro s Revolution We encounter principally a challenging love story under highly unusual circumstances It is also a work of historical fiction, and it is the way that genre ought always to be done Here we have a writer who has deeply absorbed many levels of historical information political, biographical, geographical and cultural Because of this, he does not deploy packages of facts as historical window dressing Thorndike s thoroughly digested understanding of a special time and place informs his storytelling in ways both natural and subtle Overall it creates an emotionally convincing setting, and therefore provides the ground for a compelling plot and authentic set of characters And yet in Thorndike s hands the story is also timeless, because of his mature appreciation of human psychology All his characters, like real human beings, are imperfect in the choices they make They aspire to live fuller lives, even as they struggle to figure out what they want out of a life that takes unpredicted turns As an author, Thorndike s point of view shows he is a keen eyed student of the spectrum of human experience His perspective rewards the reader because it is multifaceted, and generously embraces life s true complexity rather than presenting a black and white viewpoint The author does not romanticize the era, but he does show how people of the time did Through it all, his writing style carries you like clear flowing water, and so the novel percolates through the mind like a vivid dream When the reader is done, it is impossible for the heart to dismiss the fictional from the factual In some parallel universe it had to have happened just as Thorndike wrote it. John Thorndike s A Hundred Fires in Cuba is an intriguing love story that also brings to vivid life an important historical moment Camilo Cienfuegos the character is based on a historical figure is a guerrilla fighter, a hero of Castro s revolution The book is set in the early years of the revolution, and Camilo carries all the tough, world weary glamour you d expect of a victorious military commander Camilo and Clare had a passionate affair in New York some time before the book begins When Clare, now a skilled professional photographer returns to Cuba, she is unaware that her one time lover is still alive What Camilo doesn t know is eventelling Clare has a two year old child, and he is the father I m not sure what I liked most about A Hundred Fires in Cuba the profound, complex and very human relationship between Clare and Camilo, the subtle, intelligent way in which the novel communicates both the righteousness and the corruption of Castro s revolution, or the beautiful clarity of Thorndike s prose. John Thorndike s A Hundred Fires in Cuba is a terrific love story set in the immediate aftermath of the Cuban Revolution All the historical figures are there, Fidel, Raul, Che, and the sensual Camilo Cienfuegos, who s involved in a passionate affair with Clare Miller, a NYC photographer chronicling the early stages of Castro s overthrow of Batista s government Thorndike paints a colorful picture of 1959 Cuba, a heady time as the rebels work to implement reforms on the island The story is gripping, the characters real, especially Clare, a passionate lover and loving mother of Camilo s child She s challenged to balance her independent, zestful spirit with the everyday responsibilities of caring for her young daughter Thorndike clearly knows Cuban culture and history and shares it in vivid prose, as Clare drinks sweet dark coffee served in little screws of paper on her way to photograph men cutting sugar cane, whose movements are a dance,like a waltz than a rumba A Hundred Fires is a beautifully written love story.
- 84 pages
- A Hundred Fires in Cuba
- John Thorndike
- 09 December 2018 John Thorndike