The summer 2014 launch of my historical fiction novel, A Decent Woman, is right around the corner! With the book launch in mind, I’ve decided to share blog posts on topics that relate to my main characters, the midwife Ana Belén and young Serafina, and of course, the setting of the story-the colonial city of Ponce on the island of Puerto Rico. I am excited to introduce you to the Puerto Rico I know and love, and to share some of the reasons Puerto Rico is called la isla del encanto, meaning the island of enchantment.
A Decent Woman was birthed by family stories, old yarns and local lore told to me since I was a young girl. I interviewed my maternal grandmother, my mother, and my aunt (all born in Ponce) who, for hours, patiently retold the stories over family meals. I spoke with healers, a curandero (folk healer), a psychic in Puerto Rico and a medium in the Dominican Republic who helped me to better understand the fascinating and sometimes, difficult lives of healers, mystics and those who communicate with spirits in the spirit world.
My protagonist, the Afro-Cuban midwife Ana Belén, grew up as a slave in Cuba with the Yoruba traditions of her ancestors, so I paid good attention. From now until the book launch, I will share blog posts on the history of Puerto Rico, Ponce and midwifery practices at the turn of the century. I will also include posts on: healing practices and superstitions, women’s issues at the turn of the century, the sometimes blurred lines between spiritism, religion, and the Lukumí religion (also known as Santería) on the island. slavery in the sugar trade in the Caribbean, typical foods, flora and fauna of Puerto Rico, music and dance from the Barrios of San Antón and Bélgica in Ponce, and hurricanes that have affected the island which for me have become characters in A Decent Woman.
I hope you will join me on this journey and enjoy discovering the Puerto Rico I know and love. Thank you for your visit!