The Cemetery of Untold Stories: A Novel

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Julia Alvarez/s latest novel, The Cemetery of Untold Stories, returns to the rich world of magical realism her work has embodied for decades.

Protagonist Alma Cruz, herself a writer, worries that the stories she’s never fully told may drive her mad, so she chooses to plant them in the Dominican Republic on land she inherits after both of her parents die. The land is seemingly worthless which makes it the perfect place to buy the novels and ideas she’s never brought to life. Of course, because this is an Alvarez novel, the burial is just the beginning of the story.

The circuitous story within a story structure is, at times, difficult to follow. While readers encounter Alma’s own timeline, they are also immersed in those of the characters she has created, some of whom interact with real people in the “real” world. That, coupled with the move between Spanish and English in many parts of the book, may make it difficult for some readers to comprehend and enjoy. There are section headings noted by character names, but that isn’t always enough to ensure the narrative moves forward cohesively.

The rendering of the Dominican Republic is stunning, and many of Alvarez’s female characters are particularly strong. People who have read her most famous novel, In the Time of Butterflies, will be delighted by the same focus on women’s stories and strength. The four sisters in this novel have echoes of the sisters in Butterflies, and their interactions often provide the highest humor and levity in the book.

Alvarez is a masterful writer; there are many things to love in this book. If multiple storylines and a rapid plot intrigue you, you will likely enjoy The Cemetery of Untold Stories.

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Author Julia Alvarez
Star Count 3/5
Format Hard
Page Count 256 pages
Publisher Algonquin Books
Publish Date 02-Apr-2024
ISBN 9781643753843 Buy this Book
Issue April 2024
Category Modern Literature