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
WritetoDone, a great website for writers of all stripes, features a guest post I wrote for them about the mix of fact and fiction in both novel and memoir. This is a topic I’ve been pondering for years. My recent novel features several historical figures from the Cuban Revolution, who mix it up with the purely-invented characters in the book. And my next book will be centered—as close as I can manage it—on my mother’s actual life, with many details and incidents I’ve made up to fill in the portrait.
Here’s a paragraph from the middle of the article:
We know a story must follow its own inner logic. On page one that logic might be ours, but with every chapter the characters gather force, and we wind up following their desires, not our own. Such, at least, is the general consensus of how it should work, and one I subscribe to. Of course, not everyone does. I read with a certain glee Vladimir Nabokov’s comment from a 1967 interview in The Paris Review, when he was asked if his characters sometimes took over and dictated the course of his books. Nabokov would have none of it. “My characters are galley slaves,” he said.