The Passion According to Carmela

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 23 Oct 2018

Member Reviews

"The Passion According to Carmela" by Marcos Aguinis was the first book I have read that took place during the Cuban revolution. All in all, I enjoyed this novel. It is written in a colourful, passionate prose, full of emotion and sometimes slightly ridiculous turn of phrase. The author described the journey of Carmela, a privileged young woman, who disillusioned by her unfaithful husband and her parents’ values decided to join the revolutionary forces against a depraved Cuban leader. That was Fulgencio Batista, whose regime was supported by the USA. 

Truthfully, I couldn’t sympathise with Carmela, because her actions and choices from the beginning till the end felt ridiculous and silly to me. Her naïve, blind faith in revolutionary ideals was abysmal to me. I guess the author agrees with me to some extent, because he showed Carmela’s progressing disillusionment with her comrades, revolutionary leaders, revolution itself and even the love of her life. 

The revolution ended not with liberation, but with imprisonment and total loss of democratic freedoms and rights. Carmela had to do what she was told by the regime, even when it was morally wrong or against common sense, otherwise she had to face negative consequences. 

"Revolution without violence is no revolution at all. That’s why we had to accept the purges, as much as they hurt." – quote from the book.  

The most disturbing parts of the book where when Carmela and her beloved tried to convince themselves that everything was well and the revolution was on the right path, even though people all around were being arrested on false charges, unjustly imprisoned and executed, wrongfully dismissed or deprived of their possessions.    

"Look, before Marx, we already had Proudhon declaring that property is a form of theft." – quote from the book. 

For Carmela revolution ended with dehumanisation and oppression. All beautiful ideals that Carmela believed in proved to be lies. Ideals look bright and shiny on a page, but in real life the human element changes everything. It is a sobering thought for any idealist. 

I received "The Passion According to Carmela" from the publisher via NetGalley. I would like to thank the author and the publisher for providing me with the advance reader copy of the book.
Was this review helpful?
This book was not really for me as it turned out. I enjoyed the setting but was a little overdone at times so it became almost too assertive in a heavy-handed propaganda feel which overwhelmed the love story. The shifts between first and third person narratives were too quick for me which tended to jar me out of the story and felt disruptive.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you Netgalley, the publisher.
I could not get into this book, I tried. It could not keep me interest going.
Was this review helpful?
Perfect for someone with an interest in historical fiction and particularly the Cuban revolutions. Not having much knowledge of these myself, it was quite interesting to learn and look up events while characters experience them. There were some things oddly phrased but that’s just a translation issue.
Was this review helpful?
Captivating, full of suspense and sheer determination from the characters! 
I know nothing about the Cuban Revolution but in reading this I found myself taking on the characters passion, will to survive, fight for change and equality during a time when everything was bent on hindering them from even being alive.
Thank you Netgalley for the eARC.
Was this review helpful?
The Passion According to Carmela by Marcos Aguinis is a novel which takes place during the Cuban Revolution. Mr. Aguinis is a prize winning, internationally bestselling novelist.

Carmela Vasconcelos, an idealistic divorcee, gets caught up in the excitement of the Cuban Revolution. Carmella joins Lucas, her brother, as they run away from their wealthy parents to join Fidel Castro and his rebels.

Carmella meets a charismatic Argentinean named Ignacio Deheza and ties her fortunes with him. As the couple navigates the dangerous post-war politics, they become disillusioned with the men who lead the country that seem to have abandoned the cause they shed blood for.

I really didn’t know what to expect from The Passion According to Carmela by Marcos Aguinis, I knew it was a celebrated novel and a bit out of the categories I enjoy, but wanted to give it a shot due to the fascinating premise.

I don’t know much about the Cuban Revolution, a few bullet points I learned in school and a few more I picked up afterwards. I discovered that the fascinating parts of the story were actually after the revolution has ended, and the consequences have begun. The characters’ disillusionment from the utopia they envisioned, and were promised, slowly embed themselves in their reality until they realize that their vision will never be fulfilled. The revolution’s leaders have abandoned them, and maybe have never intended to keep the promise they sold to their followers.

The translation is excellent, I have read books by Carolina De Robertis previously and enjoyed them very much. I hold the opinion that translation by itself is a form of art and very difficult, so kudos to her for a job well done.

This is a tragic and complicated story, but it also weaves in a bit of history telling of how Fidel Castro came to power and the effects it hand on the country. The novel’s pace slows at time, but I found it to be a good read when all was said and done.
Was this review helpful?
Captivating, suspenseful, entertaining novel! This beautiful story kept me on the edge of my seat while I was reading it! Would highly recommend to those who enjoy this genre.
Was this review helpful?
Set during the Cuban revolution, this love story revolves around Ignacio and Carmela, led by Fidel Castro in the fight against the dictator Batista. Could have had a bit more detail, but well written nevertheless.
Was this review helpful?
A love story set against the backdrop of the Cuban Revolution, I found this a compelling and absorbing read, not least because it emphasises the human and personal aspects of cataclysmic political events. The eponymous Carmela and her brother Lucas leave their affluent and privileged middle-class lives behind to join Castro’s rebels and fight for the revolution. Carmela meets an idealistic young Argentinian socialist, Ignacio, who has come to Cuba to help in the struggle. United in their dedication to the cause, they see their hopes and aspirations crushed by the way greed, venality and corruption that inevitably overtake the initial euphoria of Castro’s success. I enjoyed the political aspects of the novel very much, gaining an increased understanding of how it all went wrong, and how quickly idealism turned to fear and repression. This is a really satisfying work of historical fiction, one which combines fact and fiction successfully and authentically and draws the reader in from the first pages. A good read.
Was this review helpful?
I was fascinated by the premise of The Passion According To Carmela as soon as I first started reading it. While I learned a few things about the Cuban Revolution during Uni, most of the history was skimmed over and I was looking forward to learn more about that particular part of Cuban history. The promise of a love story mixed in with a proper look inside the Cuban Revolution just sounded too good to be true, and I'm glad I was given the opportunity to read this book. The translation was excellently done and the writing style really flowed. The descriptions both of the Cuban setting and the background information around the Revolution and its consequences for the locals are exhaustive and very thorough. The Passion According To Carmela not only introduces us to the main character and their tragic and complicated love history, but also teaches you about how Fidel Castro came to power and how this effected the country. The prose is easy to on the eye, draws you in and makes it really easy to invest your time in this story. The pace was a bit slow at points, but overall The Passion According To Carmela was a really satisfying read.

The Passion According To Carmela is perfect for both historical fiction fans and those who enjoy a good complicated love story. You will come out both exhausted by everything that happens to the main character and having learned more about the Cuban Revolutions and its effects on the locals. Well written, well translation, well executed... It reads a bit slow at points, but the story is without doubt still 100% worth reading.
Was this review helpful?
Romance and the Cuban revolution.  This is not just about a romance between two people but between people and the Cuban revolution.  It sometimes bogs down but is intriguing because it presents a different viewpoint.  Thanks to net galley for the ARC.
Was this review helpful?
The book is narrated very detail by the first pov. Let's say that the narrator is the author himself. So, a lot of readers find it's hard to get into the story from the first page. This book is historical fiction about rebellion that happened on March 13, 1957. They were attacked presidential house in Cuba in an attempt to assassinate Batista. They chose to attack when he was in the building, so as to hunt him down like a wild animal, kill him, generate shock, and restore democracy immediately. The story contains a lot of conflicts. It's something that I really like because it provides a balance portion about historical facts that packed with fiction to let readers engaged into the story.

I'd like to thank to Netgalley and Amazon Crossing for this book in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
A book of two parts - of a love story set against the growing rumbles of the Cuban Revolution.

This was and still is such an iconic moment of history that it’s refreshing and fascinating to explore and experience through the eyes of Carmela and Lucas. Carmela of course is the one who heads out to join a group of 
 Cuban rebels committed to overthrowing the American-backed dictator Batista. The rebels are led  by none other than Fidel Castro himself. Lucas shows just as much determination and grit to fight for the cause too. This is a time where many youngsters especially went to fight for the cause, when they felt the rumbles of great change.

The love story is a major part of the book but for me, it was the Revolution and being in that revolution which was not just the background but played a major role itself. Having studied this at university, it was interesting to return and find myself in the middle of the struggle in a fictional novel. I do wonder however if the detail and politics might overshadow the love story and the characters. it was a more heavy read that I had anticipated. The love story, as it progressed, read easier and flowed more smoothly than the revolution scenes. This is no criticism of the wonderful translation though! I mean, I don’t think anyone can make a love story and a revolution sing from the same song sheet.

It’s a multilayered and quite complex read at times but an interesting one for Spanish students and those interested in Cuban/world politics.
Was this review helpful?
I wanted to like this book, but found it hard to follow at times. I liked the historical aspects, but that was about it. 

I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a review copy. This is my honest and unbiased opinion of it.
Was this review helpful?
Not for me, very hard to get into and besides some historical facts, kinda boring. Cannot recommend since I could not finish.
Was this review helpful?
Weaving together the threads of romantic desire and revolutionary zeal, The Passion According to Carmela offers a portrait of the Cuban Revolution that is wide in its scope, but perhaps a little wanting in its characterisation.

Inspired by the actions of her brother Lucas, Carmela decides to leave her bourgeois life behind to join a group of Cuban rebels committed to overthrowing the American-backed dictator Batista, led by none other than Fidel Castro himself. Despite their wealthy upbringing, both Carmela and Lucas become deeply involved in the revolutionary movement, an ideological immersion made particularly resonant for Carmela by her growing relationship with the Argentine socialist Ignacio Deheza. But for all their zeal, storm clouds are gathering: the aftermath of the Revolution will force them to confront both the truths of their beliefs, and their feelings for each other…

With a shifting narrative voice, moving from the first person to the third and then back again for our three main characters, Aguinis allows his protagonists to justify themselves while supplementing the plot with his own ironic comment on their behaviour and beliefs. Carmela climbs a hot, stuffy bus filled with the “ordinary people she idealize[s]”; in a rare break from analysing socialist politics, Ignacio seeks out Lucas for a discussion on the merits of English literature, having found most of his rebel comrades too uneducated for such a conversation. 

Yet Aguinis manages to keep these moments of irony subtle; the main draw of the plot remains the parallel made between Carmela’s passion for the rebel cause, and her aching desire for Ignacio. The further she drifts from her philandering first husband, Melchor (aptly nicknamed “Malhechor”), the closer she moves towards both radical socialism and the alluring Ignacio. Amid flowing descriptions of ardent love, particular scenes and metaphors catch the eye; the image of her gaze meeting his is beautifully captured as “a bridge of hot glass” forming between them. 

But for all that this connection is suggested, it often feels as if there is a vital thread missing in the plot. As the novel progresses, an ever-widening gulf grows between the almost poetic prose of Aguinis’ passionate love scenes (masterfully translated into English by Carolina de Robertis), and the clumsier, more expositional tone in which the facts of the Cuban Revolution are described. Aguinis’ research shines through, he knows what he’s talking about – and yet such a factual rendering of events, compared to the brilliance of some of the lines depicting the torrid love affair between Carmela and Ignacio, seems at times a heavy-handed distraction from the association offered between revolutionary and romantic passions.

That is not to say that Aguinis presents an entirely dry account of the Revolution; rather, it is to argue that the moments of superb tension that slowly build up between characters are not maintained quite tight enough. The strange meeting of Lucas and his family’s former chauffeur in the rebel camp allows a short, sharp description that shivers with the essence of foreboding; it is the actions of this chauffeur which first inject the narrative with unease. But such dramatic potential finds itself squandered when the fallout of such events is relegated to the background, a certain taut thread loosened by a narrative pace not quite fast to live up to the possible drama.

The loss of such tension weakens otherwise well-crafted and interesting characters. There is thus a certain prescience when Lucas remarks to Carmela that they are only “minor characters in the Cuban Revolution”. Sometimes the reader feels the same is true about their role in the novel.

(Thank you so much to AmazonCrossing for offering me the chance to review the book; I received a free copy through NetGalley for an honest review).
Was this review helpful?