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Reclaiming Paris

Reclaiming Paris

A Novel

  • reading group guide

"Men are like perfumes. In an instant, with nothing but a whiff of judgment, I either love them or discard them."

Marisol is an exuberant poet and historical archivist living in contemporary Miami. Like her adopted city, she's a sensual free spirit. Born in Cuba and transplanted at an early age to Florida, she nurses a nostalgia for the legendary island birthplace she barely remembers. She also harbors a passion for scents, donning a new perfume each time she takes on a new relationship. After the death of her beloved grandmother and a series of sensuous but disappointing romances, Marisol realizes that she must break free from the shackles of her history, abandon lost causes, and embrace the only real home she's ever had -- her own wandering heart. Freed at last from yearning for old Havana, "the Paris of the Caribbean," this romantic exile must embrace a new life. Although she cannot reclaim Havana, she can experience the real thing -- Paris -- so Marisol sets out with an open ticket to chart the course of her future.

Bridging the divide between the effervescent Miami of today and the mystical Cuba of yesteryear, Reclaiming Paris is a paean to place and memory, rich with humor, passion, and unforgettable characters.
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  • Atria Books | 
  • 320 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416579649 | 
  • September 2008
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Reclaiming Paris includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, a Q&A with author Fabiola Santiago, and a letter from Fabiola as well! The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Introduction

In this debut novel, a young Cuban-American woman explores her life and relationships, each major era defined by a different perfume. From her early childhood in the midst of the Cuban revolution, through her college years in Iowa and her adult life in vibrant, chang­ing Miami, Marisol finds passionate love and great loss, each moment leading her to a greater understanding of her culture, her family, and herself as a woman.

Questions and Topics for Discussion

1. Marisol recollects switching perfumes whenever a significant shift has occurred in her life. In what ways do you think relation­ships are like scents? Can you relate to associating different scents with different periods of your life?

2. Discuss the important relationships in Marisol’s life. How does each romance fulfill her and fail her? How does each man help her to work out her identity as a Cuban-American?

3. How is Marisol’s immigrant experience different from the e see more

About the Author

Fabiola Santiago
Photo Credit:

Fabiola Santiago

Fabiola Santiago has been a writer and editor for The Miami Herald since 1980. She was the founding city editor of the Spanish-language El Nuevo Herald, and shared in a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Elián
González story at The Miami Herald in 2001. Her writing on culture, arts, and identity has won awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Her stories and essays have been published in many U.S. newspapers, magazines, and anthologies, and in Latin America, Canada, and France. She lives in Miami.

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