In This Review

Havana Dreams: A Story of Cuba
Havana Dreams: A Story of Cuba
By Wendy Gimbel
Alfred A. Knopf, 1998, 234 pp

In the Revuelta family saga, Gimbel found the perfect microcosm of the indelible impact of the revolution and Fidel Castro on every Cuban family. At the center is Naty, a beautiful American-educated socialite, wife of a prominent doctor and besotted with the young Castro, exchanging letters with him while he was in jail, and the mother of Alina, Castro's illegitimate and unacknowledged daughter. When Naty's husband and eldest daughter flee to the United States, Naty remains faithful to the revolution. But she is quickly marginalized by Castro. He occasionally appears in her life surrounded by sycophants yet coldly indifferent to her and their child even as he provides for her and her mother with an oddly suspended space of privilege. Having escaped Cuba, it is Alina who Gimbel believes has suffered the most emotional damage "wandering alone, bewildered, lashing out at friend and enemy alike." Moreover, Castro's judgment of Naty was facile and dismissive, "she missed the train," but what train Gimbel asks, wasn't it his train? "and he too was now in trouble, spellbound by his empty rhetoric. Waving at crowds that weren't there."