Cover image for The love you promised me
The love you promised me
Molina, Silvia, 1946-
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Uniform Title:
Amor que me juraste. English
First edition.
Publication Information:
Willimantic, CT : Curbstone Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
152 pages ; 22 cm
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The Love You Promised Me is the 6th recipient of the Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz Prize, awarded annually at the Guadalajara International Book Fair for a work of fiction by a woman writer in the Spanish language. Marcela, the heroine of the novel, is a modern, professional woman in her forties sifting through her disappointment after a brief but intense, extra-marital affair. As the novel opens, Marcela is in the town of San Lazaro, the home town of her forebears, not only to pick up the pieces of her life, but also to discover the secret past of her parents. Set in Mexico in 1994, Mexico's last elections, the Mayan insurrection in Chiapas, and the assassination of presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio serve not only as backdrop, but they also parallel the emotional vicissitudes in Marcela's own life.

Author Notes

Born in Mexico City in 1946, Silvia Molina is the author of five other novels. She receieved the Mexican Writers Center Award in 1980, and participated in the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa in 1990. 

Dave Unger was born in 1950 Guatemala City. He is the U.S. coordinator of the Guadalajara International Book Fair and the Director of City College's Publishing Certificate Program. Among his many translations are Popol Vuh, version of Victor Montejo, Elena Garro's First Love & Look for My Obituary And Barbara Jacobs's The Dead Leaves.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Two award winners--for Molina the annual Sor Juana Inea de la Cruz Prize awarded at the Guadalajara International Book Fair, and for Valdes Spain's prestigious Planeta Prize--do not disappoint. Molina expresses the deep emotions experienced by a mature, well-established woman in the aftermath of a brief but excruciatingly intense extramarital affair with an older man. Living with her relentlessly busy husband and their two sons in Mexico City, Marcela travels alone to her ancestral village, San Lazaro, to reflect on her situation and to explore her family's history. There she discovers some upsetting details about the lives of her parents and grandparents, as well as some truths about herself--her identity as a woman, a daughter, a wife and mother, a lover. Though she is saddened and disturbed by some things she learns about her family, she tries not to blame them, but to forgive their weaknesses, trying to find self-forgiveness for her own actions as well. Molina weaves the past and present together into a seamless tapestry of hopes and passions, fears and failings, love and longing. "I am not the author of this novel. I am the corpse." These are the astounding opening lines in this hilariously funny and heartbreaking novel of pre-and post-revolutionary Havana. At 16, Cuca Martinez leaves her country home for Havana, where she is introduced to the flourishing nightlife of the early '50s. Cuca meets the love of her life, Juan Perez, but she doesn't see him again for eight years. Soon after they reunite, Juan takes off for the States, leaving Cuca pregnant and pining. While Cuca and friends cope with the hardship and restrictions of the revolution, Juan remains in the states for 36 years. His long-awaited return brings both promise and ruin to Cuca and their daughter. Unbound by conventional frames of reference, this is an exuberant story, infused with bawdy sexuality and the haunting lyrics of Cuban love songs, a tale of jumbled ideologies and uncertain loyalties. Rich in entertaining allegory, it is at once a lament for the unfulfilled promises of the revolution and a tribute to the marvelous city of Havana. --Grace Fill

Publisher's Weekly Review

Mexican writer Molina's second novel to be published in English (after Gray Skies Tomorrow) is a sentimental, unsatisfying love story about an extramarital affair. As the story opens in the mid-1990s (Mexico's turbulent political situation gets a nod), Marcela, an advertising writer who lives in Mexico City with her husband and two teenaged boys, finds herself in a hotel in a small town on the Gulf of Mexico, nursing a broken heart and hinting portentously at "disorder and chaos" in her life. She begins to read a collection of letters from her ex-lover Eduardo, a married doctor 20 years her senior who has declared his love to her and then withdrawn it. The abandoned port town of San L zaro is also where her now-deceased father grew up in a wealthy family. When she is not digging in Eduardo's letters for answers to his about-face, Marcela unearths clues to the shameful past of her father's family's Änotably its exploitation of Indian workersÄand discovers that her mother was a maid. Molina just skims the surface of her story, reducing Marcela's conflicts to clich‚s. Eduardo comes across through his letters as patronizing, while Marcela's lawyer husband, Rafael, and two unidentified sons exist merely as background. Marcela sets out to know herself, but the answers she comes home with seem to be of little help when, after returning to her husband, she encounters Eduardo in a restaurant. Sketchy to begin with, and further handicapped by a choppy translation, Molina's novel fails to come to life. (Nov.) FYI: This novel won the 1999 Sor Juana In‚s de la Cruz Prize. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

"I want to know, Eduardo, how a doctor, an intellectual like yourself, falls in love," muses Marcella, the narrator of this thoughtful new work. She has reason to wonder, for Eduardo, the doctor who nursed her dying mother, fell in love with Marcella herselfÄa steady, hardworking wife and mother of twoÄand threw her life into disarray. Marcella has come to the town where her parents were born to try to piece together their lives even as she recovers from the tumultuous affair. What she discovers while searching through the archives is not entirely earth-shakingÄa soberly realistic touchÄbut she is able to recapture both her past and herself: "Honestly, I had never thought of that. To accept myself for what I am." This lovely work, astonishing in its quietude, was deservedly winner of the Sor Juana In‚s de la Cruz Prize and belongs in all literary collections.ÄBarbara Hoffert, "Library Journal" (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.