The Price of Paradise by Susana López Rubio, Achy Obejas (Translator)
English | 2019 | Romance, Historical Fiction | ePUB | 4.3 Mb
The Price of Paradise : In a city as corrupt as it was luxurious, those who dared to dream were bound to pay the price.
Havana, Cuba, 1947. Young Patricio flees impoverished Spain and steps into the sultry island paradise of Havana with only the clothes on his back and half-baked dreams of a better life. Blessed with good looks and natural charm, he lands a job as a runner at El Encanto—one of the most luxurious department stores in the world.
Famous for its exquisite offerings from French haute couture to Arabian silks, El Encanto indulges the senses in opulent extravagance. It caters to visiting Hollywood stars, rising politicos, and prerevolutionary Cuba’s wealthiest power players, including the notorious mobster César Valdés.
Falling in love with the mobster’s young wife, Gloria, is suicide. But Patricio is irresistibly drawn to the beautiful girl with sad eyes, a razor-sharp intellect, and a penchant for both Christian Dior’s clothes and Einstein’s theories. Within the walls of El Encanto, anything seems possible, even a love that promises to heal them and a desire that thrums with the mambo beat of the city itself.
In a reckless love affair that spans half a century, Patricio’s and Gloria’s lives entwine time and again, challenged by every twist of fate—for in a world of murder, betrayal, and revolution, those who dare to reach for paradise seldom survive unscathed.
“The city was a feast for the eyes and ears. Music pervaded every corner of Havana. It came streaming out the doors of the cantinas, from the transistors resting on the window ledge of every house, and from the trumpets of the street musicians and bands that used the corners and plazas as their stages.
When I got to Chinatown, at the corner of Zanja and Galiano, I was so awestruck by a poster advertising the Tropicana Club—with its dancers and their ostrich-feather headdresses—that I didn’t notice the streetcar barreling toward me.
“Get out of the way, comemierda!” screamed the conductor.
Even though the streetcar managed to brake just before it crashed into me, I couldn’t keep from falling on my ass. A man in a suit stopped to help me.
“Are you okay?”
I nodded; it was my dignity that hurt.
“Didn’t you see this gentleman was busy drooling over the legs of those beautiful dancers?” the man scolded the conductor. “And you almost sent him straight to Colón Cemetery! Goddamn it, man.”
It was a fact: Cubans were capable of speaking with the utmost refinement and, simultaneously, cursing like poor devils.
“I’m really sorry, my man,” the conductor said. “Next time he can be just a little bit more careful, and everything will be aaall riiight.”