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The House on the Lagoon
ROSARIO FERRE

The House on the Lagoon by Rosario Ferre
24 reviews (1995) (416p)
National Book Award Finalist

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Book Description
A finalist for the 1995 National Book Award, a family saga traces the secrets and conflicts of the dynasty of Isabel Monfort and her husband Quintin Mendizabal, whose fate is intertwined with the evolution of Puerto Rico. Reprint. NYT.


Amazon.com Review
In The House on the Lagoon, a wealthy Puerto Rican woman decides to fulfill her lifelong dream of becoming a novelist, much to her husband Quintin's chagrin. Isabel Monfort writes what she knows--the history of her family and Quintin's family, dating back to the turn of the 20th century. When Quentin discovers the work in progress, he is dismayed at her factual errors and unhappy that she reveals so many family secrets. Every couple of chapters, Quintin interrupts Isabel's narrative to tell his version of events and worry aloud about his marriage. At first, he tries not to let his wife know he's reading the novel, but soon he cannot resist writing comments in the margins. This "he said/she said" format allows Rosario Ferré to explore sexual divisions in Puerto Rican society and evaluate the blurred boundaries between fact and fiction.

Ferré also examines Puerto Rico's severe economic and racial divisions in evocative ways. She describes when Quintin's sisters were children, and they grew weary of playing with one of the servant's babies--the two girls decided it might be more fun if the baby were white, so they painted her. The lead paint made the infant deathly ill, and she had to be rushed to the hospital. "Another half an hour of being white, and Carmelina would have died." Isabel remarks.

At times this book is confusing because there are so many characters to keep track of, but the family tree at the beginning of the text makes it a bit easier to follow. Isabel is an engaging narrator who has plenty of racy and tragic stories to tell. The House on the Lagoon is a fascinating introduction to Puerto Rican history and culture. --Jill Marquis


Rosario Ferre Award Stats
Major Prize* Nominations 1  
Unique Books Nominated for a Major Prize* 1  
Pulitzer Prize Wins 0  
Pulitzer Prize Nominations 0  
National Book Critics Circle Award Wins 0  
National Book Critics Circle Award Nominations 0  
National Book Award Wins 0  
National Book Award Nominations 1 The House on the Lagoon ·  
Man Booker Prize Wins 0  
Man Booker Prize Nominations 0  
PEN/Faulkner Award Wins 0  
PEN/Faulkner Award Nominations 0  

*Major Prize = Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award, National Book Award, Man Booker Prize, and PEN/Faulkner Award

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