Review: I love learning about intriguing women throughout history. The story of María de las Mercedes Santa Cruz y Montalvo or just Mercedes, is no exception. Born in Cuba to a well-connected family in the 19th century, Mercedes was perfectly placed to drive her own destiny. Raised in her great-grandmother's household and then sent to her mother's household in Spain in the midst of political tumult, Mercedes continued to thrive and grow. She eventually married becoming the Comtesse Merlin and hosted the premiere soirees of her time.
I loved Mercedes stories of her childhood and the way that they were captured. Her daring escapes from her relative's imprisonment as well as the convent were exciting as well as humorous, even if they were romanticized by Mercedes later in life. Mercedes time in Cuba was the most interesting to me, the landscape, houses, family issues and Mercedes antics made her childhood seem like an adventure. Her parents lives were equally as entertaining and it's easy to see where her personality, persuasive ways and flare for the dramatic came from. In her adulthood Mercedes went from Spain to France and hosted extravagant salons featuring premiere artists and musicians of the day. This section painted a beautiful portrait of France at the time and the luxuriousness of Mercedes' salons. Luckily, Mercedes wrote about her life in her published memoirs. I had only wished that I could have read more of the actual excerpts that Mercedes had written. Alina Garcia-Lapuerta has pulled the most interesting times out of Mercedes varied past and brought to life a captivating woman who was ahead of her time.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.