Cecilia Manguerra Brainard has written an ambitious novel of forbidden love. Set against the turbulent history of East Asia in the twentieth century and by turns erotic and tragic, Magdalena vividly depicts three generations of strong Filipino women.
Aimee Liu, author of Cloud Moutain
Cecilia Manguerra Brainard s novel Magdalena takes its title from a protagonist descended from several generations of equally compelling female characters. . . Brainard uses a nonlinear narrative and multiple points of view to describe the history of the Philippines that roughly corresponds to its contact with the United States from the Spanish American War to the war in Vietnam. The novel brings into focus not only the romantic and social conflicts of different generations of women but also economic and racial divisions in the Philippines . . . Interspersed throughout the novel are archival photographs of places and people, photographs that remind the reader that while the characters are fictional, the backdrop is historical reality.
Kathleen Flanagan, Longwood University, World Literature Today
With her second novel, Magdalena, Cecilia Brainard adds new portraits to the gallery in Philippine literature. She has always had a strong sense of place. Here, she provides an inner landscape as well. Together, these provide the coordinates for the family secrets that bind the characters as securely as bloodlines.
Linda Ty-Casper, author of The Stranded Whale
In this novel, Brainard blends a series of multiple perspectives to create a polyphony of voices that enacts Philippine society before and during the Second World War. The narrative is a nuanced vision of the workings of culture, social class, obligation and the Filipino personality.
Rocio G. Davis, author of Transcultural Reinventions: Asian American and Asian Canadian Short Story Cycles
I have been looking for a good story about the war.
N.V.M. Gonzalez, author of The Bread of Salt and Other Stories (upon reading Winning Hearts and Minds, one chapter of Magdalena.)
About Brainard s first novel When the Rainbow Goddess Wept
The strengthening of the national spirit; the loss of innocence in two generations these themes are explored by the author, who was born in the Philippines, with persuasive conviction and stark realism. (Publishers Weekly)
A fast-paced, sensitively written first novel about the psychological damage war wreaks, seen through the eyes of an intelligent, resilient young girl ... Brainard s appealing characters are larger-than-life people who change before our eyes, yet remain utterly convincing. (Kirkus Review)
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