I loved this story which is a fascinating account of
Lisa St Aubin de Teran's early years living on a hacienda
in Venezuela. The hacienda was located in the Andes
mountains, a remote area and a place which seemed to
have been lost in another era of time.
There were the molienda harvests of the sugar cane and
later the avocado crops. There were “la gente” the people
of the estate, the workers and their families. Gradually,
by the late 1970's and with the drop in the sugar prices, many
of the families who had lived on the hacienda for generations
were moving to the cities.
The author of the book was given a unique and very powerful
role from a young age when she found that she was in charge
of the hacienda and the many workers who lived there. She
married at a young age and left London to live in Venezuela.
Thee Teran family had been the first settlers from
Spain who arrived on the second voyage of Christopher Columbus
via Santo Domingo.
She often assisted with medicines for the people, helping with
their health-care and also assisting to teach some of the children
Throughout the theme of the story was the thought
“Que diran?” (What would people say?) if the author might do
or say something unexpected out of the ordinary, e.g. standing on the
road in the pouring rain trying to get a
lift into the town to take her baby to see a doctor.
A graphic description of the hospitals of the time (early 1970's)
is also given in the novel. Lisa St Aubin de Teran certainly
had to look out for her baby in the hospital as the nurses were
preoccupied watching television and her baby had inadvertently
been given medicine which was prescribed for another patient.
The author mentions in her story that the people of the hacienda
“la gente” have been the greatest influence on her life and work.
She also describes her early attempts at writing.
This book gives
wonderful descriptions of life on the hacienda, the lives of the
poor people, their beliefs and also gives an understanding and unique
observations of life in a remote area of the Andes in Venezuela,
which people would not otherwise have known about. Descriptions
are also given of the magnificence of the beauty of the plantations,
the sugar cane, and the verdant lush scenery. This was a tropical
place and there were incessant rains during the rainy season and
steaming heat after the rainfall. It must have given a beautiful
aspect to the mountain ranges with the changes of colour when the
sun came shining through after the rain. There are black and white
photographs included in the book with pictures of the hacienda.
I did a read a book by the same author “The Palace” which was set
in Venice and was impressed by the wonder
of a book where a palace was built for the love of a woman.
I love reading books of interesting and exciting places. This book
describing life on a hacienda, the early Venezuelan years is quite
special and different. Touching, sensitive also, as the author befriends
people of the hacienda. Worth reading! I enjoyed reading the book
of the author who became a Dona at such a young age. Eventually,
she returned to live in London.
There was once a book I read of an English family living in a castle
in Italy in the early years of the twentieth century. There was a man
in the village who remembered seeing the last Duke riding through the town
in his carriage and horses.