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I Gave You All I Had [Hardcover]

Zoe Valdes
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Paperback £9.89  

Book Description

9 Nov 1999
In audacious, brazen, exuberant novel of Cuba from one of her generation's most important, exciting, and iconoclastic novelists. I Gave You All I Had introduces Cuca Martinez - a.k.a. Cuquita, Cuchita, the Girl - the youngest child in a brood of five, born in prerevolutionary Cuba to a flighty would-be actress and a Chinese enthusiast of New World riches upon whom fortune has consistently failed to smile. At sixteen, she heads for Havana in search of work. There, a pair of strumpets named La Mechanga and La Puchanga introduce her to the sweet mischief of nighttime Havana, in which she meets Juan, the love of her life - only to see him disappear for eight years. When Juan resurfaces on the eve of the Revolution, Cuca believes her dreams are finally to be realized, but the political climate and Juan's shady dealings force him into hasty exile in America. And so Cuca, like Cuba itself, waits. She waits for the promised dreams - of happiness, of plenty, of joy, of love - to arrive, and watches her country slide into a barren, repressive slumber. And while she waits, Cuca and her friends struggle, in the midst of those shattered dreams, to survive: they improvise, they scavenge, they make love, they remember, and above all, they talk.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 238 pages
  • Publisher: Arcade; 1st English-language Ed edition (9 Nov 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559704772
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559704779
  • Product Dimensions: 24 x 16.8 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,508,274 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
A truly facinating book! It is two love stories at the same time. One is the main character's (Cuca's) love for the first man she ever kissed. This love story goes on from their first meeting in the late 1950s to their last meeting in the mid-1990s. The second is the author's love for Havana, and her disappointment in the Castro regime. This love story develops from a colourful picture of the open and international Havana of the 1950s into a depressingly accurate description of today's isolated communist Havana, where food, clothes and other essentials are luxury goods available only for the newly rich (whether party elite or people working in the dollar economy). Both these themes are comunicated in a beautiful, quick, and direct language that makes the reader feel present in Havana. You can actually smell the dirt, hear the ocean, breathe the air and feel the music. I'd certainly recommend it to all, especially if you either love Cuba or the Latin American style of writing - or both!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.3 out of 5 stars  14 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A studied, original, literate novel 4 Feb 2001
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Cuca Martinez is the youngest child in a brood of five, born in pre-revolutionary Cuba to a flighty, aspiring actress and a Chinese enthusiast of New World riches upon whom fortune has consistently failed to smile. At the age of ten, Cuca is sent to live with her grandmother; at sixteen she heads for Havana in search of work. Pre-revolutionary Havana is a sultry capital of music and seduction where life is lived to the percussive beat of the mambo and rhumba, and every event comes with a sensual invitation. It is also where two other girls introduce Cuca into the sweet mischief of nighttime Havana where she meets Juan who will be the love of her live -- and then disappear for eight years. On the eve of the Revolution Juan returns and Cuca beliefs her dreams are finally to be realized. But the political climate and Juan's shady dealings force him into hasty exile in America. So Cuca waits in Cuba for the realization of promised dreams, all the while struggles, along with her friends, to survive through improvisation, scavenging, and conversation. Enthusiastically recommended reading, I Gave You All I Had is a studied, original, literate novel that is humorous, lively, original, heartbreaking, and life affirming.
7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it! 10 Oct 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
A truly facinating book! It is two love stories at the same time. One is the main character's (Cuca's) love for the first man she ever kissed. This love story goes on from their first meeting in the late 1950s to their last meeting in the mid-1990s. The second is the author's love for Havana, and her disappointment in the Castro regime. This love story develops from a colourful picture of the open and international Havana of the 1950s into a depressingly accurate description of today's isolated communist Havana, where food, clothes and other essentials are luxury goods available only for the newly rich (whether party elite or people working in the dollar economy). Both these themes are comunicated in a beautiful, quick, and direct language that makes the reader feel present in Havana. You can actually smell the dirt, hear the ocean, breathe the air and feel the music. I'd certainly recommend it to all, especially if you are either intersted in Cuba or the Latin American style of writing - or both!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A completely waste of time 23 Aug 2010
By Domingo Suarez - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I also was lost in the middle of a plot with so many inconsistencies. This writer simply does not know how to narrate a simple story. Besides, there are historical errors alongside the plot. Shameful!
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Touches both Body and Soul 29 Nov 1999
By Edward Gleason - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Nostalgia and sarcasm, illusion and reality, eternal romance and coarse sex, Havana of boleros - Havana of institutional mediocrity. Zoe Valdes stands them side by side and mixes them together in the tale of Cuca Martinez and the love of her life. To describe this book is to describe classical music or art. It is a book that is felt by both body and soul. Bravo.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring and confusing 24 April 2006
By Mauricio B. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is the second book by this author I read. Here I encountered the same problems I found in the other book. She begins a story, but obviously never knows how to finish it nor what to do with her characters. Besides, there is a lot of inconsistencies in both plots. I don't think she even knows how to write. I won't read any more of her books. It is a waste of time and money. I recommend instead another Cuban author: Antonio Orlando Rodriguez: "The Last Masquerade"
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