Island Beneath the Sea

Isabel Allende

From the sugar plantations of Saint-Domingue to the lavish parlors of New Orleans at the turn of the 19th century, Isabel Allende’s latest novel tells the story of a mulatta woman, a slave and concubine, determined to take control of her own destiny in a society where that would seem impossible.

Born a slave on the island of Saint-Domingue – now known as Haiti –Tété is the product of violent union between an African mother she never knew and one of the white sailors who brought her into bondage.

When twenty-year-old Toulouse Valmorain arrives on the island in 1770, it’s with powdered wigs in his trunks and dreams of financial success in his mind. But running his father’s plantation, Saint Lazare, is neither glamorous nor easy.

Against the merciless backdrop of sugar cane fields, the lives of Tété and Valmorain grow ever more intertwined. When bloody revolution arrives at the gates of Saint Lazare, they flee the island for the decadence and opportunity of New Orleans. There, Tété finally forges a new life – but her connection to Valmorain is deeper than anyone knows and not so easily severed.

Spanning four decades, ‘Island Beneath the Sea’ is the moving story of one woman’s determination to find love amid loss, to offer humanity though her own has been so battered, and to forge her own identity in the cruellest of circumstances.

Reviews of Island Beneath the Sea

    • ‘”Island Beneath the Sea” is a seductive, intoxicating saga. It starts with slavery, forbidden relationships and rebellion in Haiti, and expands to include struggles over secret children, racial castes and family heirs in Louisiana. Isabel Allende’s latest novel is sweeping, provocative and impossible to put down’ Lawrence Hill, author of ‘The Book of Negroes’
    • ‘A complex and involving saga of human passions and cruelties’ TLS
    • ‘A magical storyteller’ Daily Mail
    • ‘Allende’s writing is so vivid we smell the countryside, hear the sounds, see the bright birds, smell and even taste the soft fruit’ The Times
    • ‘A truly wonderful piece of storytelling – a novel that pulls the reader into its rich, pungent world, and drives us along, dancing helplessly to the beat of the sorceress Allende’s drum’ Tablet
    • ‘Allende is a brilliant storyteller … a rich and beautiful read’ The Stylist
    • ‘Allende adroitly explores the role of the era’s free people of color … Island Benath the Sea is a lush lesson of a moment and place all too relevant today.’ USA Today