Cover image for White rose : a novel = Una rosa blanca
White rose : a novel = Una rosa blanca
Ephron, Amy.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Morrow, [1999]

Physical Description:
259 pages ; 19 cm
Format :


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Evangelina Cisneros is a very beautiful nineteen-year-old girl who, along with her father, is active in the struggle to oust the Spanish from Cuba in the late 1890s. When her father is arrested, she pleads his case to a Spanish general, who falls in love with her. She spurns his advances and is herself thrown in jail for her revolutionary activities.

When reports of her imprisonment reach the New York papers, Evangelina becomes a cause cilhbre among the city's many society women. William Randolph Hearst, recognizing an opportunity, sends one of his star journalists, Karl Decker, to Havana on the pretense of interviewing her when in fact he is on a mission to effect her escape. As she tells him her story, the two find themselves falling in love. Back in America, Decker's wife is becoming increasingly suspicious of her husband's absences. After a frightening escape, Evangelina and Karl arrive in New York, where they are heralded as heroes. But then they must inevitably face Decker's wife and a decision that will affect all their lives.

Based on a true story, White Rose is part romance and love story and part spy thriller. Set in both the exotic, primitive world of Cuba and the high-society milieu of Manhattan in 1897, here is a story that will inspire the imagination and capture the heart.

Author Notes

Born in Beverly Hills, Calif., in 1955, Amy Ephron is the author of such popular novels as Cool Shades, Bruised Fruit, and Biodegradable Soap that primarily take as their subject the upscale, trendy Los Angeles lifestyle. She has also written A Cup of Tea, which is based on a short story by Katherine Mansfield. In a departure from her other fiction, this is a historical novel, set in New York City at the time of World War I.

Ephron has worked as a reporter for Scanlon's Monthly and as a production vice president at Columbia Pictures. She has also been a screenwriter, most notably for the film A Little Princess. She is a founding editor of L.A. Style, a contributing editor of Buzz, and a contributor to National Lampoon, Realist, and L.A. Times Magazine.

Writing runs in Amy Ephron's family: her parents are both screenwriters, and her sisters, Delia and Nora, are also authors.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

This suspenseful novel, based on a true story, is set in 1897 Havana during Cuba's fight for freedom from Spanish rule. Evangelina Cisneros is the beautiful daughter of a Cuban revolutionary, just 19 years old and imprisoned on charges of insurrection, having angered the Spanish military governor by spurning his advances. A cause celebre among American women, her case receives the attention of William Randolph Hearst's newspaper, the Journal. Star reporter Karl Decker is dispatched to Havana under an assumed name, ostensibly to interview Evangelina, but actually to organize her escape to America, an extremely dangerous mission. The two find themselves in a web of intrigue where no one can be trusted and there is no margin for error. They also find themselves falling in love, though Evangelina's lover fights by her father's side and Karl's wife awaits his return to the States. Evangelina questions the Journal's motivation (is her story just good copy?), even as she assumes her unanticipated role in building U.S. support for the revolution. A memorable, beautifully written story. --Grace Fill

Publisher's Weekly Review

The latest effort from novelist (A Cup of Tea) and screenwriter Ephron is based on the true story of Evangelina Cisneros, who escaped imprisonment in Cuba with the aid of American journalist Charles Duval (aka Karl Decker) during the 1890s, just before the Spanish-American War. The determined, pretty 19-year-old chose to accompany her father to the Isle of Pines after he was arrested by the Spanish government on political charges. When her father escaped, Evangelina was left to face 20 years in Ceuta, an African penal colony no prisoner had ever survived. William Randolph Hearst sent Decker, his top reporter, to rescue Evangelina; like a modern heroine, she rescued him right back, helping him to make it safely off the island and following him to the U.S., where she met with President McKinley. The attraction between Karl and Evangelina may or may not have roots in fact, but as Ephron tells it, Karl gives scant consideration to his wife and child at home in Washington, D.C. This is an intriguing story and an important one, with special appeal for political and feminist audiences, but Ephron fails to bring it fully to life. Her decision to rely on Evangelina's own words for some of the dialogue ensures the proper historic tone and surely posed an interesting challenge for the writer, but the results are sometimes stilted, though Ephron's own prose is supple. The novel is fleshed out with a good deal of Cuban history and a look at early American cultural imperialism. But it is developed in too sketchy a fashion to involve the reader's emotions; this is all the more disappointing since the subject matter is so promising. (Sept.) FYI: Ephron is writing the screenplay and will be executive producer for a film based on this book that has been optioned by Warner Brothers. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Yet another novel based on true events, this story features a beautiful young Cuban girl jailed as a revolutionary at the turn of the century and the reporter sent by William Randolph Hearst ostensibly to cover the story but in fact to spring her. Of course they fall in love, with lots of complications. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Case de Recojidas The Prison for Abandoned Women Havana, Cuba September, 1897 She was seated at a table in the center of the prision yard, in a straight-backed chair, the legs of which were slightly uneven and wobbled uncertainly against the coarse and rocky soil.  The table was roughly carved so that if she was not carful where she placed her hands, she would come away with splinters. She sat perfectly erect, barely moving, holding her head high, chin slightly down, breathing, in small measured breaths because the acrid smell of female urine, intensified by the sun which beat down relentlessly in the open patio of the Recojidas , was not one you could ever get acustomed to. She longed for the slight shelter of a palm tree, to walk barefoot in the sand, to let her feet be cooled by the crystal blue water as the soft waves crashed lightly into shore.  She wanted to breathe the moist tropical air, lightly scented with flowers, the air of her childhood, that she knew still existed a few blocks away. She was dressed in a high-necked, concealing, long-sleeved dress that did little, however, to hide her lithe form, incongruously, as if it were a few years ago, and she was on her way to tea at the big house on the plantation.  They had brought her the dress that morning, freshly ironed, so that she would appear to the public to be better treated than she was.  The dress still smelled faintly of the carnation water she used to sprinkle on so liberally.  She wondered what they had done with the rest of her things--if one of the guards' wives wore her black lace shawl at night and someone else was reading her Bible and playing with the beads of her rosary. She had dressed carefully and pinned her hair up, squeezing her cheeks to try to put some color in them.  It suited her to go along with them, to present an image of respectability. It pleased her that they were a little afraid of her and afforded her certain liberties that they did not allow the other prisoners--that they would still let her have some discourse with the outside world. There was a composure about her, a peacefulness, way beyond her years and certainly curious in her present circumstances.  She was still young enough not to be frightened of anything, despite what she had been through. She was staring straight ahead, her eyes intently fastened on the entrance gate.  She wanted to see him when he first came in, this journalist who was coming to see her, who had been sent by Mr. Hearst to interview her. She was aware of everything around her--she had been trained to this, long before she was imprisoned.  The cluster of black women in the corner passing a lone cigarette between them, their torn dresses draped about them with little attempt to conceal their bodies, as they stood hunched defiantly against the thick waalls that towered high in the air, well within the sights of the lone guard, posted atop the parapet, armed with a Spanish rifle.  They had seemed to her, at first, so fierce, these black women, as though they, too, were an enemby faction, something else to be feared.  But that was before they had earned each other's respect.  Anna, the oldest of the prisoners, standing off to the side alone, nervously shifting her weight from one foot to the other, as if she were a child, her gray hair hanging scraggly about her face, her pale blue eyes almost as translucent as her skin.  For murdering her husband, she had been sentenced to life, a life that would no doubt be cut short by her sentence.  It was said that in the moment when she took his life, she lost her will to communicate with the outside world.  It was Anna that Evangeliana understood the most, how violence was the only way that she could think to silence him, how when she neatly slit her husband's  throat with a hunting knife, as if in penance, commited herself to a world of silence.  The other women, seemingly educated gently women, who stood apart by their background, there for the same reason that Evangelina was--because they or their father or their cousin or their husband or their neighboor believed in their country, their right to a free country, more than in anything else.  It was that belief, that naive conviction, that gave her what little composure she had. Would she tell her story again? Yes. She would tell it as many times as she had to. Viva Cuba Libre . Excerpted from White Rose: Una Rosa Blanca by Amy Ephron All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.