Monday, June 9, 2008

The Road from La Cuava by Sheila Ortego

Title: The Road from La Cuava
Author: Sheila Ortego
ISBN: 9780865345881

Publisher: Sunstone Press/2008

Pages: 139/Hardcover

Sheila Ortego asked me to review this and when I said yes, she sent me a signed copy of her book. I received it yesterday and started reading it right away, finishing it today.

This novel is about Ana Howland, who works at St. Joseph's and lives in La Cuava which is thirty miles from the town, with her controlling husband Frank and thier 4 year old daughter Emmi. She hates the house, the roads, Frank, everything about her life apart from Emmi. However, she never lets out her feeling known to anyone. She is much too constrained for her own good. She tries to be a good mother and wife despite her frustrations.

She develops a good relationship with an eecentric Neighbour Margaret who lives in a motor house with numerous pets. Ana and Emmi come to love her and care for her. Ana comes in contact with a male Nurse Michael, who understands her loneliness and her desires which need an outlet. . She falls for him but is unable to leave Frank as she is afraid of him. Michael cuts her off from his life.

In the second half of the novel, we see Ana snapping out it and find her taking care of Margaret who is very sick. One can feel the bond that forms between Ana and Margaret. Facing harships, she discovers herself and finds strength within herself. Her spirit restores itself and she is her own person again after so long, which had been subdued by Frank. She welcomes any change that helps in the restoration of faith in her ownself.

What happens to Margaret? Where is Michael? Is she able to go for what he truly desires? How does her daughter Emmi figure in all this? The Road from La Cuava answers all these questions and more. It makes us question our life.
Ana does find the courage to face up to it and walk away. With Emmi. On her way she finds a new Margaret too. This book seems a bit slow in the middle as we wish for Ana to walk away from Frank fast. She takes her own time.

In India, women just take whatever their husbands dish out without protesting at all. They consider it as their lot. A husband always has the last word. In that context, I could relate to the book although being single I don't face any such situation. However, I have seen this happening closely. It is so difficult for a woman to walk away from her home and husband. Especially when she has children. She simply accepts it as her fate and goes on living passively like this.
It truly made me think of a close friend of mine. My copy goes to her! Maybe it will help her in some way.

Ana is so calm externally and seeting internally. Any woman would relate to that.

The road is a good metaphor here, the hardships parallels her life. The shedding of mud and all, are reflected in Ana's life. I found that very interesting. As a first time writer, Ortego is a good writer. It is an easy, uncomplicated read, unlike a few difficult books I have been reading lately.
Get going folks, read this book!

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