I am delighted to be bringing you an excerpt from The House on Calle Sombra by Mara Ortigas. It looks like a fabulous book, and is one that I am looking forward to reading.
The House on Calle Sombra follows the fates and fortunes of the esteemed Castillo de Montijo family over three generations. Set in the Philippines - a tropical island nation where truth blends with fiction - none of the Castillos is quite as perceived. Successful patriarch Don Federico arrived from Spain a penniless orphan. Formidable matriarch Doña Fatimah is a native Muslim fugitive. And their brood of privileged descendants is struggling to live up to their famed and crested motto: FAMILY FIRST.
Mirroring events in the country's turbulent history, the Castillos' perfect façade begins to fracture as shadows from their past return to claim their due.
Sardonic, witty, and brutally frank, The House on Calle Sombra is an ode to family, and a compelling exploration of how greed, love, and trauma are passed down through generations.
The owner—Federico Julián Castillo—arrived on the islands from Spain in 1937, a penniless orphan fleeing a brewing civil war.
He was eighteen and not interested in dying.
Fortunately, after nearly four centuries, the far-off Philippines were no longer owned by the Spanish Crown. And from what he’d heard, the Americans—the new colonial masters—were more egalitarian.
Without a pedigree or an inheritance, Federico believed—and rightly so—that he’d fare better in the tropics than in the rugged, landlocked region of his birth. Extremadura didn’t sound like ‘extreme hardship’ for nothing.
The voyage over—though hidden in the hold for most of it—was the first he’d seen the ocean.
Federico fell in love with The Islands the moment he crept off the ship and wandered towards the elegant walled city of Intramuros, once the seat of Spain’s only colony in Asia.
Like the country he left, Intramuros had ramparts, cobbled streets, and stone churches—but it was adorned by a wealth of wonderfully unfamiliar trees.
There were more fruits than he recognized and unexpectedly numerous shades of green.
The weather was mild, and everywhere he looked, a fiesta of flowers dazzled against the crystal sky. He was determined to learn their names. Ka-la-chu-chi, gu-ma-me-la, sampa-guí-ta.
Young Federico could not afford to live in the fortified city, but some evenings—after working the docks—he treated himself to a horse-drawn carriage ride through its narrow streets. Blissfully hypnotized by the patter of hooves upon cobblestone and the heady, sweet aroma of tropical plants.
Sometimes, he walked.
Post a Comment