My New Book   Coming from Beck & Branch Aug. 15th

A Hundred Fires in Cuba.   In the spring of 1956, a young American photographer falls in love with a Cuban line cook in New York. They have a ten-week affair which ends when Immigration arrests and deports him—but by then Clare Miller is pregnant. Few Americans know the name Camilo Cienfuegos. All Cubans do. In real life he was the most charismatic of Fidel Castro’s commanders, until his small plane vanished only months after Fidel came to power. In this novel, Clare must choose between the stable Cuban businessman she has married and her first love, Camilo. Though a true revolutionary, Camilo likes to dance and drink. He likes women, and too many women like him. His courage is legendary, yet when he comes to visit Clare he’s afraid of his own daughter and her moods. Clare worries that he’ll never make a good parent, but she cannot resist him.

“Thorndike weaves a complex love affair into one of the hemisphere’s great dramas, the Cuban Revolution. Evocative prose, timeless conflicts, and an intimate story full of surprises.” –Natalie Goldberg, author of Wild Mind and Let The Whole Thundering World Come Home

Thorndike is a talented, experienced writer, and Clare and Camilo especially are fully developed, attractive characters…. A highly recommended rendering of a love affair and mysterious slice of Cuban history.” –Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“The prose is elegantly crafted…. A Hundred Fires in Cuba is a sophisticated historical novel that effectively deploys a love triangle to capture the essence of a remarkable figure and the historic period that produced him, laying bare the yearnings of the heart.” —Foreword Reviews                

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One of the first pre-publication jobs for a writer is to collect some reviews. Of course you can’t go out into the woods and pick them as you would some mushrooms. Harvest might be the right word, for first you seed some tubers, hoping for a good return. You send advance readers copies out to review publications and writers you respect, trusting that they’ll respond favorably.

Sometimes they do. The starred review from Kirkus was a delight, and here’s what Foreword Reviews has to say:

“The prose is elegantly crafted….A Hundred Fires in Cuba is a sophisticated historical novel that effectively deploys a love triangle to capture the essence of a remarkable figure and the historic period that produced him, laying bare the yearnings of the heart.” —Foreword Reviews

Quite lovely and welcome. Yet I respond even more when some reader captures the absolute heart of the book, ferreting it out and describing it more exactly than I ever have myself. This is from Paul Kafka-Gibbons, author of Love [Enter], Dupont Circle, and The Last Murder:

“John Thorndike brings a resonant emotional sensibility to the days of Clare Miller and her baby girl, Alameda. Thorndike knows that to become a father or mother is a revolution in itself, and projects this against the big screen of political revolution, with its savage and often tragic logic.”

That is the true revolution going on in A Hundred Fires in Cuba. Castro and his reforms get the headlines, of course, but the deepest changes are those within us. Daily I’m fascinated by all kinds of politics, all kinds of revolutions, but what goes on among Clare, Camilo and their daughter is what drives me to write a book.

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