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Memoir is Rosario Ferré’s account of her life both as a writer and as a member of a family at the center of the economic and political history of Puerto Rico during the American Century, one hundred years of territorial “non-incorporation” into the United States. The autobiography tells the story of Ferré’s transformation from the daughter of a privileged family into a celebrated novelist, poet, and essayist concerned with the welfare of Puerto Ricans, and with the difficulties of being a woman in Puerto Rican society. It is a snapshot of twentieth-century Puerto Rico through the lens of a writer profoundly aware of her social position. It is a picture taken from the perspective of a keen observer of the local history of the island, and of the history of the United States. Included are many photographs that connect Ferré’s life with the story of her writing career.
the world. It was as if the Caribbean Sea expressed the family’s desire to forget the painful source of wealth. The country house’s ample verandas were not made of rustic wooden planks like the house in Sambolín. They were made of Puerto Rican polished cement tiles with blue, yellow, and green arabesques. We felt like dancing when we walked on them. Planters filled with ferns, myrtle, and Impatients circled the place. The plants multiplied almost magically without anyone taking care of them
scribbling in angry red letters, “if you are not a cheat, do not enter.” The Club was next to a slum, and the boys from Machuelito had easy access to its grounds. Every so often they would take over the volleyball and basketball courts. The Portugués River bordered one side of the Club, with the shacks of La Milagrosa neighborhood piling up on its banks. There, one could find the infamous street vendors, lottery ticket hucksters, and swindlers from Guadalupe Street, commanded by the old Spanish
interested in visiting there. We only discussed and read North American and European literature and history in the Alhambra house as if Latin America did not exist. In fact, there was no reason to think that a woman from Guatemala should be smarter and more efficient than any of the women from the poorer neighborhoods of Ponce. Yet my mother insisted that harmful North American values had not arrived in Guatemala, and their maids were still tame and obedient. The day that Guanime arrived at the
Sèvres, a small village in the northeastern French province of Mèlle. He arrived in Cuba and was an agent of the French company Five Lille, a company that sold grinders and evaporators to sugar engineers. He married Marie Pauline Perotín in Mèlle. Their marriage license is among Father’s papers at the Luis A. Ferré Foundation. Louis went to Cuba to live. There he had a son, Maurice, with a Cuban woman. Later he returned to France with his son. There he learned that his attorney had robbed him of
cement—something that they had never built in their foundry. They purchased the mill in Pittsburgh and twice shipped it to Puerto Rico. Each time, German submarines sunk the ships. In the end, my father and his brothers had to come up with a way to make a clinker mill from scratch in the Porto Rico Iron Works. By 1940 my father was the head of the family even though he was not the oldest son. He made all the important decisions. He was spontaneous, a natural leader, who helped everything turn