La Belle Créole's author, Alina García -
-Lapuerta, was born in Havana but raised in the United States, graduated magna cum laude with a B.S. in International Economics from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. Now based in London with her Spanish
-American husband and their two children, she still spends considerable time in South Florida.
Alina García -
-Lapuerta will present her book with an introduction from Lord Hugh Thomas.
María de las Mercedes Santa Cruz y Montalvo, also known as ‘Condesa de Merlín’, is a name a reader interested in colonial Cuba often comes across.
The exceptional life of this woman, born in Havana in 1789 into the heart of Cuban creole élite, constitutes a fascinating insight into Cuba’s and fashionable Madrid and Paris societies, with their salons and tertulias which gathered not only aristocracy but members of the political and artistic world of the time – and the upheavals that these societies were to undergo with sudden change of regimes and the eventual Peninsula War which brought chaos, ruin, death and exile to most at the time.Buffeted by near
-constant changes in French political life, Mercedes’ resilience allows her to re
-invent herself in Paris, launch the most celebrated salon of the day which not only converts her into a ‘celebrity of the day’ but turns her into a philanthropist to refugees from Greece, Poland, Spain and Martinique, and a hostess of the great of the literary world and the political intelligentsia.
Eventually joining the ranks of writers, Mercedes publishes her memoires which include her childhood in the Cuban countryside, the world of cloistered Havana convents, a glimpse of the evils of slavery and the fraught years of the Peninsula War.After an absence of nearly 40 years, the death of her husband forces Mercedes to return to Havana looking to establish her future security amidst the remnants of her past, but she also encounters that other aspect of exile: the question of identity and the contradictory role of an exile within their homeland. This she records in “Viaje a la Habana”, her best
-known and controversial book.
Mercedes, La Belle Créole, allows the reader to rediscover an extraordinary life, witness extraordinary times and visit the long lost worlds of Old Havana, Madrid and Paris.
This event is kindly supported by BBVA.