Island Beneath the Sea
|Original title||La Isla Bajo el Mar|
|Translator||Margaret Sayers Peden|
Published in English
|Media type||Print (hardback & paperback)|
|Preceded by||The Sum of Our Days (2008)|
Island Beneath the Sea is a 2009 novel by Chilean author Isabel Allende. It was first published in the United States by HarperCollins. The book was issued in 2009 in Spanish as La Isla Bajo el Mar, and was translated into English by Margaret Sayers Peden, who has translated all (except the first) of Allende's books into English.
The story opens on the island of Saint-Domingue (current day Haiti) in the late 18th century. Zarite (known as Tete) is the daughter of an African mother she never knew and one of the white sailors who brought her into bondage. As a young girl Tete is purchased by Violette, a mixed race courtesan, on behalf of Toulouse Valmorain, a Frenchman who has inherited his father's sugar plantation. Valmorain has big dreams of financial success and is somewhat ambivalent towards slavery. He views it as a means to an end, as he does most things.
Upon Valmorain's marriage, Tete becomes his wife's personal slave. Valmorain's wife is fragile, beautiful, and slowly succumbs to madness. As Valmorain's wife goes mad, Valmorain forces Tete, now a teenager, into sexual servitude, which produces several illegitimate children. Spanning four decades, the narrative leaps between the social upheavals from the distant French Revolution to the Haitian slave rebellion in all its brutality and chaos, to a New Orleans fomenting with cultural change.
- Alexandra Alter, Isabel Allende on Superstition and Memory, The Wall Street Journal, 23 April 2010, p. W4