I have quite a few reviews that I have accumulated and I plan on sharing some in the coming weeks, but I saw an opportunity for other people who love to review books, and also a chance to help a Spanish author whose books I enjoy.
Lola Mariné (here her Amazon page) is from Barcelona too, and although I haven’t met her personally, I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with her on a variety of occasions, mostly in Facebook. Yesterday, through Twitter, she sent me a message to let me know that one of her novels ‘Havana Jazz Club’ that I read a while back and thoroughly enjoyed (although when you read the review you’ll see that enjoy is not perhaps the best word to use, as the book really pulls at one’s heartstrings) had been translated to English (it was chosen by Amazon and they’ve managed the translation) and was now available to reviewers in Net Galley, FREE. I am signed to Net Galley and it’s a great way to get a flavour for new books (both from independent authors and publishing companies, big and small) and yes, it gives one access to books before they are published. Not all the books (some have copyright restrictions and it might depend on where you live if you have access to it or not).
As the book is not going to be officially published until late in August, I thought I’d take the chance to leave you my review for the Spanish version (translated, don’t worry), and would see if any of you who might be signed onto Net Galley could be interested in reviewing it too. I didn’t see any restrictions on the page that is this one:
First I leave you some information about the book and the author.
Translated from Spanish by Rosemary Peele
Like Lady Day, Billie is young when she falls in love for the first time. Lured by her new playboy husband, the beautiful, trusting woman leaves her close-knit and caring family in Cuba to follow him to Spain. Once there, he reveals his true—and violent—nature, and Billie chooses the dangers of the street over the abuses of the man she once loved. Soon she finds herself with trouble to spare and nowhere to turn, but when her voice lands her a spot at the Havana Jazz Club, she discovers a new, unconventional family in a city far from the one she left behind. And with every high note and heartbreak, Billie skirts destiny to write her own song.
A Note From the Publisher
Havana Jazz Club by Lola Mariné. Love doesn’t conquer everything but art is a great consolation
The novel Habana Jazz Club by Lola Mariné narrates the adventures of Billie, a Cuban girl, daughter of a woman who adores jazz and decides to call her Billie as an homage to Billie Holiday, despite everybody telling her that ‘it’s a boy’s name’. Billie inherits her mother’s love for music, particularly jazz music, and luckily for her, that love never disappoints her. Unfortunately, the rest…
I’ve never been to Cuba and I only know about it what I’ve read in books or watched in movies. I wouldn’t dare to comment on how realistic or not the description of Billie’s life before leaving Cuba is, but her home life is endearing and loving and shows us a close and happy family. Although we all know mothers’ are always right, unfortunately Billie ignores her mother’s advice and her mistrust, and marries a boy, who isn’t only handsome but also knows it, Orlando. Billie leaves Cuba and a big chunk of her heart there, and follows her husband, and things don’t work well for them. Billie’s story once they arrive in Spain becomes one of domestic violence and exploitation. And things only go from bad to worse, to the point when she ends up living in the streets of Barcelona, where she is rescued by her guardian angel, Armando. And when things start to look up, the men in her life continue making her miserable. And I won’t tell you anything else because you must read the novel.
Lola Mariné has written a masterful melodrama. There are irredeemable baddies, goodies as sweet as sugar, terrible suffering, and talent and music, plenty of music. There were moments when I couldn’t help reading ahead convinced of what would happen, and that it would be bad, but the same as when we’re dragged by a fast current, I couldn’t do anything else but let myself go and see if I came up, unscathed, at the other side. And despite her trials and tribulations, and the disasters that pepper her journey, or perhaps because of them, the protagonist makes her dreams come true (in a small-scale but…), and creates a family made up of people who love her because she is who she is, and not because she’s been born here or there, or because it is their duty.
The part I enjoyed the most (and I loved it all) was when towards the end, the author, first through Gerardo and later through Billie herself, reflects upon the nature of creativity, about what the really important things in life are, and the tranquillity of feeling happy and comfortable in one’s own skin, without pretending or having to worry about appearances. I hope we can all reach such a state at some point in our lives.
If you enjoy novels with a heart, with unforgettable protagonists, and the stories about self-improvement and personal achievement, I wholeheartedly recommend it to you.
Here is the link to the novel in Amazon, but as I said, it’s not published yet. Although you can pre-order it.
Sorry for not following the usual format but it’s a bit of a novelty. And once the book is out and the author has had a chance to recover, I’ll try to bring her here for an interview. She’s a fascinating woman.
Thanks so much for reading, and you know, if you’re interested, like, share, comment, and CLIC! And if you do, don’t forget to leave a review!
Olga Núñez Miret