Our Lives Are the Rivers: A Novel

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9780060820701: Our Lives Are the Rivers: A Novel

From critically acclaimed author Jaime Manrique, comes a breathtaking, sweeping novel based on the life of one of the most controversial women in the history of the Americas.

Before there was an Eva Peron, Collette, or Mata Hari, there was Manuela Saenz. Arguably one of the most fascinatingly sexy women in all history, she single–handedly helped to secure independence for much of South America from Spain.

Based on actual events, Our Lives Are The Rivers tells the life story of a woman who was willing to risk it all for her country –and her lover–and in whose legacy lies the history of an entire continent.

The novel begins in 1822, when Simón Bolívar, known as The Liberator, marches into Quito, victoriously leading an army that had overthrown its Spanish rulers, winning independence for a giant swath of land in what is now South America.

As he makes his way through the cheering crowds on the streets, his eye catches sight of Manuel Sáenz, a beautiful young woman of means who wore on her chest the gold medal of Knight of the Sun–the first honor given by the new republic to any woman in the New World. The attraction between them was so strong, they became lovers that same night, and remained together for the following 8 years, the last of Bolívar's life.

Told from the point of view of Manuela Saenz, as well as that of her two loyal slaves, Our Lives Are The Rivers is a novel of intoxicating love, passion, and adventure, with dynamic continent struggling for its own identity as its backdrop.

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About the Author:

Jaime Manrique is the award-winning author of the memoir Eminent Maricones, and the novels Latin Moon in Manhattan, Twilight at the Equator, and Colombian Gold. A contributor to Salon.com, BOMB, and other publications, he lives in New York City and is an associate professor in the MFA program at Columbia University.

From Publishers Weekly:

Manrique (Latin Moon in Manhattan) distills the tumultuous last years of colonial South America through the life of Manuela Sáenz (1797–1856), the controversial mistress of Gen. Simón Bolívar. A veteran spy in Peru's successful, early 1820s struggle against Spanish rule, Ecuadorian Manuela meets Simón, a Venezuelan aristocrat who led five South American nations to independence, while she suffers the de facto slavery of an arranged marriage to a wealthy, possessive Englishman, James Thorne. In her relationship with Simón, Manuela finds passion and renewed purpose, earning the moniker "liberator of the Liberator" after pushing Bolívar out a window to help him escape assailants. She remains loyal to Bolívar until his death in 1830 and earns the rank of colonel in battlefield heroics along the way. Haphazardly placed chapters in the voices of Manuela's black slaves, Natán and Jonotás, offer further perspectives on Manuela and Simón's vision of freedom; it would be rejected by South America as tyranny, leading, among other things, to Manuela's exile from Colombia, her destitution and her burial in an unmarked Peruvian grave at the novel's bittersweet conclusion. An epic page-turner that swells with ecstatic love and righteous anger, Manrique's latest skillfully recreates an inspired pair, and their times. (Mar.)
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