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I love this Cecilia Manguerra Brainard Has Written An Ambitious Novel Of Forbidden Love Set Against The Turbulent History Of East Asia In The Twentieth Century And By Turns Erotic And Tragic, Magdalena Vividly Depicts Three Generations Of Strong Filipino Women Aimee Liu, Author Of Cloud Moutain Cecilia Manguerra Brainard S Novel Magdalena Takes Its Title From A Protagonist Descended From Several Generations Of Equally Compelling Female Characters Brainard Uses A Nonlinear Narrative And Multiple Points Of View To Describe The History Of The Philippines That Roughly Corresponds To Its Contact With The United States From The Spanish American War To The War In Vietnam The Novel Brings Into Focus Not Only The Romantic And Social Conflicts Of Different Generations Of Women But Also Economic And Racial Divisions In The Philippines Interspersed Throughout The Novel Are Archival Photographs Of Places And People, Photographs That Remind The Reader That While The Characters Are Fictional, The Backdrop Is Historical Reality Kathleen Flanagan, Longwood University, World Literature Today With Her Second Novel, Magdalena, Cecilia Brainard Adds New Portraits To The Gallery In Philippine Literature She Has Always Had A Strong Sense Of Place Here, She Provides An Inner Landscape As Well Together, These Provide The Coordinates For The Family Secrets That Bind The Characters As Securely As Bloodlines Linda Ty Casper, Author Of The Stranded Whale In This Novel, Brainard Blends A Series Of Multiple Perspectives To Create A Polyphony Of Voices That Enacts Philippine Society Before And During The Second World War The Narrative Is A Nuanced Vision Of The Workings Of Culture, Social Class, Obligation And The Filipino Personality Rocio G Davis, Author Of Transcultural Reinventions Asian American And Asian Canadian Short Story Cycles I Have Been Looking For A Good Story About The War NVM Gonzalez, Author Of The Bread Of Salt And Other Stories Upon Reading Winning Hearts And Minds, One Chapter Of Magdalena About Brainard S First Novel When The Rainbow Goddess Wept The Strengthening Of The National Spirit The Loss Of Innocence In Two Generations These Themes Are Explored By The Author, Who Was Born In The Philippines, With Persuasive Conviction And Stark Realism Publishers Weekly A Fast Paced, Sensitively Written First Novel About The Psychological Damage War Wreaks, Seen Through The Eyes Of An Intelligent, Resilient Young Girl Brainard S Appealing Characters Are Larger Than Life People Who Change Before Our Eyes, Yet Remain Utterly Convincing Kirkus Review Lol World Literature Today, April June 2003 v77 i1 p100 2 Cecilia Manguerra Brainard Magdalena Book Review by Kathleen Flanagan Full Text COPYRIGHT 2003 University of Oklahoma Austin, Texas Plain View 2002 164 pages 15. 95 ISBN 1 891386 29 8 CECILIA MANGUERRA BRAINARD S novel Magdalena takes its title from a protagonist descended from several generations of equally compelling female characters Brainard s earlier novel When the Rainbow Goddess Wept 1994 employed the viewpoint of an adolescent girl to recount the Japanese invasion of the Philippines during World War II With Magdalena Brainard uses a nonlinear narrative and multiple points of view to describe the history of the Philippines that roughly corresponds to its contact with the United States from the Spanish American War to the war in Vietnam Magdalena begins and ends with the perspective of Juana, daughter of the title character and her American lover a POW in Vietnam , who is herself pregnant and curious about her family history Letters, diaries, and narratives from numerous characters help Juana reconstruct her maternal and, to a lesser extent, paternal lineage Stories of the women in Magdalena s family are woven together to demonstrate the dependency of the present on the events of the past Magdalena s grandfather, a Filipino nationalist who fought the American military after the Spanish American War, writes in his journal, There must be two Americas, one that sets the captive free and one that takes a once captive s new freedom away from him and picks a quarrel with him with nothing to found it on, then kills him to get his land Such interactions with the United States, and similar earlier experiences with Spain, emphasize the importance of power to some characters, who reject love matches for marriages with financial and social advantages The broken romances of Magdalena s mother and grandmothers affect their treatment of their daughters, just as the entwined histories of the United States and the Philippines throw into relief the American involvement in Vietnam in the 1960s setting of the novel Magdalena s absent American lover, Nathan Spenser, is portrayed through old letters as well as through segments describing the activities of his country in the Philippines One of his remaining letters explains the patriotic impulses that led him to enlist but also records his disillusionment with the American war in Vietnam Spenser s early idealism is juxtaposed with descriptions such as that of a U. S colonel who gives a speech at a newly opened child care center for prostitutes children, many of whom are half American, and begins to see Filipinos as than hearts and minds to be won in support of the effort to spread American democracy in Asia The novel brings into focus not only the romantic and social conflicts of different generations of women but also economic and racial divisions in the Philippines Magdalena s great grandfather on her father s side is an immigrant from China, and his daughter finds it difficult to enter the highest levels of Philippine society, just as lower economic and social standing make it difficult for Magdalena s irascible mother, Luisa, to marry the man she loves Interspersed throughout the novel are archival photographs of places and people, photographs that remind the reader that while the characters are fictional, the backdrop is historical reality Kathleen Flanagan Jk 4. 5stars Well written, blending different relationships and time periods Although I was unimpressed with When the Rainbow Goddess Wept , perhaps Brainard writes better love stories than war stories Yet another book detailing extra marital affairs and family secrets ayaya Author tries to tell a story by relating the lives of several different prominent women in a family There are serious problems with characterization here Not only are all the female characters the same, but this ur female is desperately flat. Can t even remember why I read this
Creative, Entertaining, and PowerfulI read Magdalena while visiting the Philippines and wanted to combine my vacation with local authors Although the author now lives in the U. S. , she grew up in Cebu and I believe writes from the perspective of a Filipina, and has a deep understanding of the country While this novel may be somewhat overdone in parts, it is extremely well written, vividly presented, and the author does a great job with a very ambitious undertaking. A short novel, it covers over 100 years of history, describing the experiences of three generations of women and the effects of war, occupation, and corruption in the context of their personal relationships and struggles The author clearly shows the struggles among many forces poverty and wealth, rural and urban, physical appearances, ethnic differences, prejudice, and oppression The impact of social status, the influence of cultures Spanish, Chinese, American , and the patterns of wars and foreign occupation serve as a backdrop for the overlapping lives, the lies, and truths, in breeding, illegitimate children, hidden relations and relationships. This is well worth reading for anyone wanting a better understanding of a complex culture. Moving narrative about women in the 1940s Makes you realize we ve come a long way.
Cecilia Manguerra Brainard is an award winning author and editor of nineteen books She co founded PAWWA or Philippine American Women Writers and Artists she also founded Philippine American Literary House Wikipedia