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Isadora Tattlin is the American wife of a European energy consultant posted to Havana in the 1990s. Wisely, the witty Mrs. Tattlin began a diary the day her husband informed her of their new assignment. One of the first entries is her shopping list of things to take, including six gallons of shampoo. For although the Tattlins were provided with a wonderful, big house in Havana, complete with a staff of seven, there wasn't much else money could buy in a country whose shelves are nearly bare. The record of her daily life in Cuba raising her two small children, entertaining her husband's clients (among them Fidel Castro and his ministers and minions), and contending with chronic shortages of, well . . . everything (on the street, tourists are hounded not for money but for soap), is literally stunning.
Adventurous and intuitive, Tattlin squeezed every drop of juice--both tasty and repellent--from her experience. She traveled wherever she could (it's not easy--there are few road signs or appealing places to stay or eat). She befriended artists, attended concerts and plays. She gave dozens of parties, attended dozens more. Cuba Diaries--vividly explicit, empathetic, often hilarious--takes the reader deep inside this island country only ninety miles from the U.S., where the average doctor's salary is eleven dollars a month. The reader comes away appalled by the deprivation and drawn by the romance of a weirdly nostalgic Cuba frozen in the 1950s.
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a Tattlin was accustomed to relocating often for her husband’s work. But when he accepted a post in Cuba in the early 1990s, she resolved to keep a detailed diary of her time there, recording her daily experiences as a wife, mother, and foreigner in a land of contraband. The result is a striking, rare glimpse into a tiny country of enormous splendor and squalor. Though the Tattlins are provided with a well-staffed Havana mansion, the store shelves are bare. On the streets, beggars plead for soap, not coins. A vet with few real medical supplies operates on a carved mahogany coffee table in a Louis XIV–style drawing room. The people adore festivity, but Christmas trees are banned. And when Isadora hosts a dinner party whose guest list includes Fidel Castro himself, she observes the ultimate contradiction at the very heart of Cuba. Vividly capturing Cuba’s simultaneously appalling and enchanting essence, Cuba Diaries casts an irresistible spell and lifts the enigma of an isFrom the Back Cover:
“Tattlin is a keen observer of this amazing and conflicted country.”—Entertainment Weekly, “A” rated review
“Always striking, Cuba Diaries is a testament to the human capacity to endure and flourish under terrible conditions.”—The New York Times Book Review
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