The book takes place in early 19th century Cuba and was published in in Havana, revised several times, then published in New York City in The story is like a Greek tragedy, even Shakespearean. Unfortunately, it misses the mark of great literature imho, not because of the plots and subplots which are riveting but the unevenness of the writing and a few minor contradictions, in the English language version at least. Through much of the book, Villaverde goes into minutely detailed descriptions of scenes in Cuba. In different parts of the book, her grandmother and great-grandmother are described as mulatto with white fathers.
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His family lived by a sugarcane mill , so he was able to observe slavery and all of its evils from a very young age. In , the family moved to Havana , where he later studied law.
He was, however, only briefly employed by a law firm before becoming a teacher and devoting himself to literature. He also attended the literary gatherings of Domingo del Monte , an advocate of public education. During this time, he made contributions to a number of now largely forgotten periodicals. In , before that occurred, Villaverde was arrested by Spanish soldiers in his own home but, the following year, successfully arranged his escape and fled to the United States and settled in New York, where he was politically active; working as the editor and publisher of some Cuban exile magazines, including La Verdad and El Independiente.
Under cover of a general amnesty, he returned to Cuba in ; editing and making contributions to several periodicals. In , he and his wife opened a private school in Weehawken. He spent the remainder of his life working for various publications, writing novels, translating and advocating for Cuban independence.
In and , just before his death, he made brief visits to Cuba. His remains were returned there and placed in an unmarked grave. Available in its entirety at Project Gutenberg.
Cecilia Valdés (novela)
After several revisions, the definitive and extended version was published in New York City in It has never been out of print in Spanish, and have been translated into several English editions as Cecilia Valdes" or "Angel Hill. It is widely regarded as the best Cuban novel of the 19th century. Leonardo de Gamboa is his legitimate son. Leonardo falls in love with Cecilia, not realizing that she is his own half-sister, and they become lovers. However, love between Leonardo and Cecilia does not last. He abandons her and becomes betrothed to a white upper class woman, Isabel Ilincheta.