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Cuba Diaries

An American Housewife in Havana

Isadora Tattlin

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.

Description

Isadora Tattlin is the American wife of a European energy consultant posted to Havana in the 1990s. Wisely, the witty Mrs. Tattlin began a diary the day her husband informed her of their new assignment. One of the first entries is her shopping list of things to take, including six gallons of shampoo. For although the Tattlins were provided with a wonderful, big house in Havana, complete with a staff of seven, there wasn't much else money could buy in a country whose shelves are nearly bare. The record of her daily life in Cuba raising her two small children, entertaining her husband's clients (among them Fidel Castro and his ministers and minions), and contending with chronic shortages of, well . . . everything (on the street, tourists are hounded not for money but for soap), is literally stunning.

Adventurous and intuitive, Tattlin squeezed every drop of juice--both tasty and repellent--from her experience. She traveled wherever she could (it's not easy--there are few road signs or appealing places to stay or eat). She befriended artists, attended concerts and plays. She gave dozens of parties, attended dozens more. Cuba Diaries--vividly explicit, empathetic, often hilarious--takes the reader deep inside this island country only ninety miles from the U.S., where the average doctor's salary is eleven dollars a month. The reader comes away appalled by the deprivation and drawn by the romance of a weirdly nostalgic Cuba frozen in the 1950s.

Publishers Weekly Review

Mar 11, 2002 – In this collection of her diary entries, housewife Tattlin describes the four years she and her family spent living in Cuba in the 1990s while the Communist country was adjusting to a liberalized economy and a shift in tourist policy. Living amid severe economic imbalance, "tourist apartheid" imposed upon locals, shortages of every conceivable household need (Tattlin's list of supplies extends over two pages) and a social architecture frozen in the 1950s, Tattlin and family inhabit an upscale Havana townhouse accompanied by a staff of seven. Her writing is clear and lively, her observances astute and witty. The record of her daily excursions has her searching for fresh produce, enrolling her children in swimming and dance lessons, visiting the pediatrician and hosting state dinners with guests the likes of Fidel Castro. She also avidly details daily living conditions with her servants and how she makes friends with the people in her neighborhood. But over the course of the book, the people she meets are passive, showing no resistance to Tattlin's questions and curiosity. Readers might get the sense that Tattlin is meeting the same characters time after time. In addition, her brief recollections leave little room for viewing the inner workings of her family or their relationships to one another: "Nick is depressed. He always gets depressed... when the kids and I take off." Despite these shortcomings, however, Tattlin's book is an enjoyable, warm trip.
Cuba Diaries
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: May 17, 2002
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books
  • Seller: Workman Publishing Co., Inc.
  • Print Length: 336 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with 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.

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