• cassandraosterloh

Ladies of Managua

Gage, Eleni N. (2015). The Ladies of Managua: A Novel. New York: St. Martin’s Press.


The Ladies of Managua takes the reader on a journey through three women's lives, looking at the choices and sacrifices they've made, as well as the secrets they've kept. Isabela, Ninexin (Isabela's daughter) and Mariana (Ninexin's daughter who prefers to go by Maria, but raised by Isabela) each narrate chapters within the book, so we often get one story from 2-3 different perspectives.

The story begins with Maria returning to Nicaragua for her grandfather's funeral. There, in the company of her mother and grandmother, as well her secrets and memories, we begin to learn about each woman and their past. The three women grapple with secrets from their past during this time of sorrow as there are things happening that make each confront both the secrets and each other.

We hear from Isabela: having grown up in a well-to-do family in Nicaragua, sent to boarding school in New Orleans, the love of her life, her husband and family, having to leave Nicaragua to Florida, raising her granddaughter, and returning to Nicaragua. Ninexin: born and raised in Nicaragua, becoming a soldier and revolutionary for the Frente (Sandinista National Liberation Front), married to a soldier, the early death of her husband, her continued work in politics, sending her very young daughter with Ninexin's parents to safety in Florida, and the secrets she later shares with Maria. And Mariana: grew up in Florida with her grandparents, always wondered what it would be like to have a father, wondered why her mother didn't want her.

This book was the July 2020 reading for the NHCC Book Club. Most everyone enjoyed it, some more than others. Some felt that the history and tumultuous time of Nicaragua that is briefly discussed, but is supposed to be a large component of the story, was not as strong as it should have been given the events that happen in the story. Many enjoyed the story for its treatment of the three women and their relationships. The women were strong characters that each spoke about their stories in their own ways.

I enjoyed the book as a good, sit down and just read for fun, kind of story. I enjoyed Isabela's stories from her time in New Orleans and felt as if I was there with her during her experiences. The author states on her website that she wrote the first draft of this book while she, her husband, and daughter lived in Granada, Nicaragua. "Inspired by the scenery (and the scandalous past of Emilio’s grandmother), I felt compelled to tell the stories of the three main characters, each speaking in her own voice." Now I want to know about Emilio's (the author's husband) grandmother's scandalous past!

Review by: Cassandra E. Osterloh, NHCC Librarian

Available at the NHCC Library

PS3607 .A3573 L33 2015

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