A slave 1791 revolt in Sainte Domingue, (later given the Taino name of Haiti), motivated 33,000 entrepreneurial French to seek refuge in Cuba, about 60 miles away. Their presence increased the agricultural revolution on the island, particularly in easternmost area of Santiago de Cuba.
Alejandrina is the daughter of one of these French refugees, Edouard d’Estrade, and Mariana, the woman he meets and marries in Cuba, a woman, of both Taino/African heritage. Alejandrina is forced into a loveless marriage, has five children, and in the last stage of her life, finds happiness with an Irishman and moves to Key West.
Remaining in Cuba, Alejandrina’s daughter, Antonia, anxiously tries to save her family during the Ten Year War and keep their enterprises unscathed as the Spaniards and the Mambises pursue a ‘scorched earth’ war with one another, leaving more than 200,000 dead and the coffee and sugar plantations destroyed.
Domitila, her cousin, another brave Cuban woman, lives through the 18-month siege of Sancti Espiritu, her hometown, when the war tactics of Spanish General Valeriano Weyler are tested as he sets up ‘concentration camps’ in specific areas of of the island, clashing with the rebel forces known as ‘Mambises’.
The soft-hearted Juana, her daughter-in-law, survives the Spanish-American War, and lives in the village of Casablanca, near Morro Castle, during the first decades of the new Cuban republic.
Juana’s daughter, Consuelo, is artistic, rebellious, and anxious to travel beyond the shores of her island. She leaves and begins her odyssey, along with her daughter, Rita Luisa, as they travel through Central America, Mexico, and finally set roots in Oklahoma.
Cuban women have faced life with dignity, with an ability to overcome, a part of their genetic codes encapsulated in “Cubana Linda.” They move forward even while facing political struggles, a diaspora, and an unrelenting conflict between opposing interests. The lovely Cuban woman, with her charm, courage, intelligence, and beauty, is inevitably the victor – Viva Cuba Linda!