June 24, 2015

Book Review: The Ladies of Managua by Eleni N. Gage

As I mentioned a couple of months ago, I almost made the mistake of not reading this one, because I didn't like the font of the title. And I'm SO glad that I didn't judge it by its cover, because I ended up really enjoying it.

Maria Vazquez's family history is complicated. Her father, a Sandinista revolutionary, was gunned down when Maria was four months old, leaving a profound gap in her life. Her grandmother Isabela primarily raised Maria in Miami, while her mother, Ninexin, was off rebuilding the post-revolution Nicaraguan government.

Maria has always felt distant from her intense and hard-working mother, and close to her beloved Bela. She reveled in the stories of Isabela's high society childhood and years of New Orleans boarding school, until Maria moved to New York City in pursuit of an arts career. When her grandfather dies, Maria returns to Managua for his funeral, an occasion that reunites her with Isabela and Ninexin. The three grieving women, each hiding a secret, finally confront surprising details of the past and the possibilities of the future.

Chapters are told alternately from the perspective of each woman, weaving together dramatically different narratives, and letting the reader see events from multiple angles. Covering high society New Orleans, Sandinista jungle camps and exile in Miami and New York City, The Ladies of Managua spans a fascinating range of locations and times. Ninexin's reserve, Isabela's propriety and Maria's passion make for entertaining interactions, and the lush Nicaraguan setting adds an appealing layer of interest. In The Ladies of Managua, Eleni N. Gage (Other Waters) has again combined a strong heroine and captivating setting in a winning novel.

Do YOU like the cover?

I originally wrote most of this review for Shelf Awareness.