The lost world of old, pre-revolutionary Cuba is illuminated against the backdrop of political and social change in Liana Fernandez de Castro Phibbs’s “Cuba, A Palace of Salt: Lives and Adventures of a Vanished World”.
Having grown up in a distinguished Spanish-Cuban family prior to the reign of Fidel Castro, the author provides an eye-witness account of how the country’s citizens survived the turbulent era.
In “Cuba, A Palace of Salt,” Phibbs encounters a giant hammerhead shark, marches in protest of the dictator Batista and leads her classmates to safety through the aftermath of a bomb’s explosion. One of her most terrifying memories takes readers three feet away from a man who attempted to kill Castro as he entered Havana in 1959.
The memoir introduces readers to characters ranging from fascinating to downright hysterical: Elena, a Galician woman who returns evil for good, suffers from the very revolution she envisioned, while the psychopathic Berta – the daughter of a police official – offers a slice of humor throughout the traumatic stories of the Cuban revolution. Readers also meet a skipper who coaxes his boat through a hurricane and a repairman whose manual skills come in handy during the revolution.
“I wanted to recreate the lost world of pre-Castro Cuba and illuminate some aspects of the revolution,” Phibbs says. “This is the only available history of these individuals and what happened to them.”