Haitians and Cubans have been linked to one another throughout history. During the Haitian Revolution, French citizens fled with their slaves to Cuba. At the dawn of the 20th Century, Haitian peasants left Haiti to cut canes in the sugar fields during one of Cuba’s sugar cane harvest booms. Throughout Cuba’s revolutions, Haiti served as a hiding place for Cubans.
For his novel Alicia Maldonado: A Mother Lost by Ardain Isma chooses the 1940s as the setting. It is during the rule of Fulgencio Batista and the affluent Maldonados fleeing Havana arrive in Les Cayes, with young Alicia in tow. From there on expect all the flares and flames of a Harlequin romance. Grown up, Alicia marries into one of Haiti’s most prestigious mulatto families, but is considered a semi-disgrace to her mother, a blue-blood of Cuba’s landowning elite.
The rosey world that Alicia grew up on the windy coast of Les Cayes slowly starts to dissolve, as life takes turbulent turns, and the storm will only die down decades later at a laundry in the South of Miami, of all places.
Ardain tends to have some really overdramatic writing, but that is to be expected. This is a sweeping melodrama-romance, after all.