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Extended Audio Sample Island Beneath the Sea: A Novel, by Isabel Allende Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (10,022 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Isabel Allende Narrator: S. Epatha Merkerson Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Born a slave on the island of Saint-Domingue—the daughter of an African mother she never knew and a white sailor who brought her into bondage—Zarité, known as Tété, survives a childhood of brutality and fear, finding solace in the traditional rhythms of African drums and in her exhilarating initiation into the mysteries of voodoo.

When twenty-year-old Toulouse Valmorain arrives on the island in 1770, he discovers that running his father’s plantation is neither glamorous nor easy. Marriage also proves problematic when, eight years later, he brings home a bride. But it is his teenaged slave, Tété, upon whom Valmorain becomes most dependent, as their lives intertwine across four tumultuous decades.

In Island Beneath the Sea, internationally acclaimed author Isabel Allende spins the unforgettable saga of an extraordinary woman determined to find love amid loss and forge her own identity under the cruelest of circumstances.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “[An] entertaining sweep...The canvas contains no less than the revolutionary history of the world’s first black republic...Allende revels in period details, [and] her cast is equally vibrant.” 

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Exuberant passions, strong heroines, and intricate plots...a world as enchanted—and enchanting—as it is brutal and unjust...A page-turning drama.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “Epic scope and sweep…[Allende’s] characters, linked by blood, love triangles, and even incest, have a depth and complexity that…imbues the proceedings with a lushness bordering on magic realism.”

    Associated Press

  • “Enthralling, blood-chilling, and heart-breaking.”

    Huffington Post

  • “A remarkable feat of prescience…Island Beneath the Sea is rich in drama, setting, themes, characters, dialogue, and symbolism…an intriguing and wonderfully woven story.” 

    San Antonio Express-News

  • “Two remarkable women whose destinies are entwined face the chaos of this time [eighteenth century Saint-Domingue]…Uncannily relevant.”


  • “[Merkerson’s] slightly deep voice lends the novel a mythical quality, illustrating the spirit of the times in the late eighteenth century. Merkerson deals adeptly with the French names scattered throughout the text without breaking the rhythm of the story. She also varies her pace, speeding up and slowing down to indicate shifts in viewpoint from female to male characters.”


  • “Allende, an entrancing and astute storyteller cherished the world over, returns to historical fiction to portray another resilient woman whose life embodies the complex forces at work in the bloody forging of the New World...Allende is grace incarnate in her evocations of the spiritual energy that still sustains the beleaguered people of Haiti and New Orleans...[A] transporting, remarkably topical novel of men and women of courage risking all for liberty.” 

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Timely and absorbing…filled with adventure, vivid characters, and richly detailed descriptions of life in the Caribbean.” 

    Library Journal

  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A Publishers Weekly Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Gita | 2/14/2014

    " This was an intense book. A story of Haiti's roots in the 18th century, interwoven with the political happenings of the time. But most of all, it is a story of a mother whose essence of life is her children. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Kate Wolf | 1/30/2014

    " I like the literary myticism of Latin American writers. Although this was more historical fiction it still had the feel of the mystical. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Niko Ramsey | 1/27/2014

    " I'm so glad I forced myself past the first half of this book, where it felt like absolutely nothing was happening, to the second half- which was like it was written by a whole different person. The writing, always beautiful, seemed to finally mesh with the characters to make things happen, and the end by far saved the beginning. All in all, I give it a 3/5. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 by JoAnn | 1/22/2014

    " I wanted to enjoy this book, but was quickly turned off by graphic scenes of sexual acts. "

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