Island Beneath the Sea

  • by Isabel Allende
  • Narrated by S. Epatha Merkerson
  • 17 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Born a slave on the island of Saint-Domingue, Zarit - known as Tt - is the daughter of an African mother she never knew and one of the white sailors who brought her into bondage. Though her childhood is one of brutality and fear, Tt finds solace in the traditional rhythms of African drums and in the voodoo loas she discovers through her fellow slaves.
When 20-year-old Toulouse Valmorain arrives on the island in 1770, its with powdered wigs in his baggage and dreams of financial success in his mind. But running his fathers plantation, Saint Lazare, is neither glamorous nor easy. It will be eight years before he brings home a bride - but marriage, too, proves more difficult than he imagined. And Valmorain remains dependent on the services of his teenaged slave.
Spanning four decades, Island Beneath the Sea is the moving story of the intertwined lives of Tt and Valmorain, and of one woman's determination to find love amid loss, to offer humanity though her own has been battered, and to forge her own identity in the cruellest of circumstances.

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What the Critics Say

"In a many-faceted plot, Allende animates irresistible characters authentic in their emotional turmoil and pragmatic adaptability. She also captures the racial, sexual, and entrepreneurial dynamics of each society in sensuous detail while masterfully dramatizing the psychic wounds of slavery. Sexually explicit, Allende is grace incarnate in her evocations of the spiritual energy that still sustains the beleaguered people of Haiti and New Orleans." (Booklist)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Very Disappointing

I am a big fan of Allende's work and was looking forward to reading this for my book club, but I really didn't like this book. It was a chore to slog through to the end. The writing was boring and characters one dimensional, For awhile I thought the narrator was to blame. Although Ms. Merkerson is a fine actress capable of subtlety and emotional depth, her reading was unpolished and uninteresting. But In the end, I believe that the writing itself fell short. The historical events in Haiti and New Orleans details were redeeming aspects, but not enough to overcome the other faults with this book.
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- New Orleans reader

Thoroughly enjoyed it

This was an amazing story with fascinating history woven throughout. The storyline evokes anger and repulsion at the human condition, yet also joy and hope. I strongly recommend this for the historical fiction fan, and would also recommend first reading up on the era of the French Revolution and particularly France's interests in the Caribbean and New Orleans. It will make the historical storyline easier to follow. As for the narrator---perfect choice for this story.
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- Laura

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-27-2010
  • Publisher: HarperAudio