A Hundred Fires in Cuba. In the spring of 1956, a young American photographer falls in love with a Cuban line cook in New York. They have a ten-week affair which ends when Immigration arrests and deports him—but by then Clare Miller is pregnant. Few Americans know the name Camilo Cienfuegos. All Cubans do. In real life he was the most charismatic of Fidel Castro’s commanders, until his small plane vanished only months after Fidel came to power. In this novel, Clare must choose between the stable Cuban businessman she has married and her first love, Camilo. Though a true revolutionary, Camilo likes to dance and drink. He likes women, and too many women like him. His courage is legendary, yet when he comes to visit Clare he’s afraid of his own daughter and her moods. Clare worries that he’ll never make a good parent, but she cannot resist him.
“Thorndike weaves a complex love affair into one of the hemisphere’s great dramas, the Cuban Revolution. Evocative prose, timeless conflicts, and an intimate story full of surprises.” –Natalie Goldberg, author of Wild Mind and Let The Whole Thundering World Come Home“
Thorndike is a talented, experienced writer, and Clare and Camilo especially are fully developed, attractive characters…. A highly recommended rendering of a love affair and mysterious slice of Cuban history.” –Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“The prose is elegantly crafted…. A Hundred Fires in Cuba is a sophisticated historical novel that effectively deploys a love triangle to capture the essence of a remarkable figure and the historic period that produced him, laying bare the yearnings of the heart.” —Foreword Reviews
No other city, no other fair could offer the kind of readers I found at the Miami Book Fair. Almost everyone I talked to there knew about Camilo Cienfuegos. Some of them were in Havana in January, 1959, and saw Castro roll into town after his victory caravan, with Camilo at his side. Two had gone to Castro’s speech at Camp Columbia that night and seen the white dove that landed on his shoulder as he spoke. They heard him ask, so all would hear, “How am I doing, Camilo?”
The woman I shared a booth with had grown up throwing flowers into the sea on the day Camilo disappeared, October 28th. One guy who stopped to look at A Hundred Fires in Cuba told me that his mother had been at the National Institute for Agrarian Reform the day of Camilo’s disappearance, and had heard Castro yelling at Camilo over the phone.
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