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As a young girl growing up in Spain, Ana Larragoity Cubillas is powerfully drawn to Puerto Rico by the diaries of an ancestor who traveled there with Ponce de Leon. And in handsome twin brothers Ramon and Inocente—both in love with Ana—she finds a way to get there. Marrying Ramon at the age of eighteen, she travels across the ocean to Hacienda los Gemelos, a remote sugar plantation the brothers have inherited. But soon the Civil War erupts in the United States, and Ana finds her livelihood, and perhaps even her life, threatened by the very people on whose backs her wealth has been built: the hacienda’s slaves, whose richly drawn stories unfold alongside her own in this epic novel of love, discovery and adventure.  

From the Trade Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Mar 21, 2011 – Santiago (When I Was Puerto Rican) brings passion, color, and historical detail to this Puerto Rican Gone with the Wind, featuring a hard-as-nails heroine more devoted to her plantation than to any of the men in her life. Gloriosa Ana Mar a de los ngeles Larragoity Cubillas Nieves de Donostia (or, more simply, Ana) grows up in southwest Spain, the willful daughter of aristocratic parents during the waning years of Spain's colonial era. Ana, a not-so-innocent convent girl, marries her best friend's fianc 's twin brother, then heads to Puerto Rico without her friend but with both twins in tow. The young men intend to make their fortunes managing a sugar plantation, but it is Ana who has the business-savvy and determination to persevere through hurricanes, slave revolts, cholera, and any other challenge the island has to offer, relying on an assortment of slaves, servants, and employees, among them mayordomo Severo Fuentes, who dares to want Ana for his wife. Santiago makes Caribbean history come alive through characters as human as they are iconic. The richness of her imagination and the lushness of her language will serve saga enthusiasts well, and she provides readers a massive panorama of plantation life, plus all you could ever want to know and more about growing sugar cane.

Customer Reviews


A great page turner. The history, characters, romance and Santiagos's beautiful and knowledgable writing style kept me captivated. It is a worthwhile and stimulating saga. It ended too soon.

What an adventure

I couldn't put this book down - I read it in a day and a half. I was captivated by the history it represented and the manner in which it was presented. It helped me to visualize a picture to the stories told by family members, like my Abuela born in 1873 - who spoke of these very things, campesinos, fincas etc. The next time I go back home to visit the Island and have the opportunity to go up to the finca in Ponce I will see it with brand new eyes....Thank you Esmeralda Santiago


I could not put this book down. Felt like I was saying goodbye to a dear friend when I finished it, so I started to read more slowly! I recommend it to everyone!

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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Literary
  • Published: Jul 12, 2011
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 432 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings