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Publisher's Summary

Combining the haunting power of Toni Morrison’s Beloved with the evocative atmosphere of Phillippa Gregory’s A Respectable Trade, Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa’s groundbreaking novel illuminates a little discussed aspect of history—the Puerto Rican Atlantic Slave Trade—witnessed through the experiences of Pola, an African captive used as a breeder to bear more slaves.

A Woman of Endurance, set in 19th-century Puerto Rican plantation society, follows Pola, a deeply spiritual African woman who is captured and later sold for the purpose of breeding future slaves. The resulting babies are taken from her as soon as they are born. Pola loses the faith that has guided her and becomes embittered and defensive. The dehumanizing violence of her life almost destroys her. But this is not a novel of defeat but rather one of survival, regeneration, and reclamation of common humanity. 

Listeners are invited to join Pola in her journey to healing. From the sadistic barbarity of her first experiences, she moves on to receive compassion and support from a revitalizing new community. Along the way, she learns to recognize and embrace the many faces of love—a mother’s love, a daughter’s love, a sister’s love, a love of community, and the self-love that she must recover before she can offer herself to another. It is ultimately, a novel of the triumph of the human spirit even under the most brutal of conditions. 

©2022 Amistad (P)2022 HarperCollins Publishers

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The difference in this book.

Like many stories of human bondage this book is difficult to read, given the abuse that men, women, and children have endured. The difference in this story is the inclusion of how slavery not only tore people apart but also bonded them together. The difference in this book is the stories that are not told about the slavery connection in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. I applaud this gifted writer.

18 people found this helpful

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“The past is never dead. It’s not even past”. William Faulkner

"Your body is only a vessel. Your essence is inviolate. It is only when you give up your soul that you are lost." A Woman of Endurance.

A Woman of Endurance ~ A Novel ~ by Dahlma LLanos-Figueroa is a testament to the Enslaved African Puerto Rican Ancestors. Dahlma is an obinrin itan in her own right. This book is the second in a non-sequential series. A very intriguing and well-researched story depicting the lives of enslaved women during the 19th century on 1836-1850 Haciendas across Puerto Rico. Dahlma's first book, The Daughters of the Stone introduced us to one of the minor characters that now has a major role in A Woman of Endurance. This is a historical fictional story of an enslaved community that exuded resilience and survival. They became family and supported each other in many ways. Told from a predominantly female narrative, these women were ultimately the backbone of the Haciendas, holding on tightly to their native culture and history. I kept hearing, ‘they can take all that they can from you but, can’t take away what’s in your heart’. Significantly, paramount, giving life, eloquently transcending place and time blurring the distinction between fiction and non-fiction resonates throughout this story.
Pola, born Keera of the Yoruba tribe in West Africa was kidnapped and brought to Puerto Rico via the Transatlantic Enslavement Trade. Keera like so many others before and after her would be stripped of her true identity, forced to become something else; a breeding mare to produce other Beautiful Black Lives that would be nothing more than a commodity to the Plantation owners. "!Apunta tu` ahi`! La negra Pola, now the property of Don Sicayo Duchesne, master of Hacienda Paraiso. Next!’. Keera had a gift of knowing through the sense of touch. 'Her sense of touch made her much more vulnerable than her body.' This would be a blessing and a curse. Pola's horrific journey made her weary with pain and grief, but it would not be her demise. Loss gave birth to relinquishing grief to embrace love and acceptance.
The cover art is of a beautiful woman looking at a well-known piece of art of an enslaved man exhibiting the brutality he endured. The brutality is also a part of the design on the dress or can be an outline of the scars under the dress. These are scars, deep wounds caused by a cancer better known as slavery. Throughout the story, Keera (Pola) would encounter various types of cancers (human, mental, emotional & physical) that left scars and unassailable grief. “Only by releasing the pain will you keep it from killing you.” Thera are several profound statements throughout the book that grabbed me and had me reflecting on life.
A Woman of Endurance is nothing less than a masterpiece that will provoke the reader’s sensory stimuli, giving a broader representation of the reality of enslaved lives. This varied cast of complex characters will take you on their lives journey experiencing deep sorrow and joy. Truly a captivating story, filled with meaning that denotes what a classic would be. I definitely must commend the narrator, Tracy Lay for doing an outstanding job with the audio version of this book. If you have not read / listened to this book yet, consider it a must read and rush to get it.
There is a South African word "Sankofa" meaning "We must go back and reclaim our past so we can move forward; so we understand why and how we came to be who we are today. Reading Woman of Endurance is reminiscent of Sankofa.

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past”. William Faulkner

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Love can overcome it all

I had the pleasure to discover Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa writing through the Patreon book club Read Soul Lit last year. We read her first book in the series titled Daughters of the Stone. It was an eye opener and such an informative tale of African slavery trade in Puerto Rico. It left a powerful impact as I was not aware of any of this.
It is an informative story that should be a required reading in the educational system.
A Woman of Endurance is even better and we learn even more of the plight of women as slaves in the plantation. The author depicts a powerful story that brings to life the era of sugar cane plantation machinery and all that it entailed in mid 19th century.
Trigger warnings of different kinds of abuse.
The Narrator did an amazing job bringing to life this story with all the different voices and the appropriate intonations. Just excellent. I sure will be adding this narrator on my favorite list.
I highly recommend this novel as there is much still to be written concerning slavery in the Caribbean. This novel can be read first or as a standalone followed by Daughters of the Stone.
I want to thank the author for participating in my Caribbean heritage education. I have no words for my profound gratitude. Thank you Dahlma for all you do. I’m looking forward to the next installment in the series.

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A GREAT READ!

Amazing!

I really enjoyed this book. it was sad, it made me cry and then the ending was satisfying.

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DocAudreyAnn

This book held me from the moment I started listening to it until the end. I felt every feeling, every hurt, every smile, every gladness, every tear. I became every character. Thank you so much.

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Amazing

I love the perspective of the Africans that where sent to the islands and not America. People of color forget are all the same, just the captapors were different

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Both a woman and a race of endurance

excellent story and narration. Parts of this book were eye opening and difficult to read.

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  • Annon
  • 05-19-22

A Woman of Endurance

I loved, needed and have lived this to a much diluted degree. More Life

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