The Seduction of Gloria: A Woman’s Temptation to Defect from Cuba
Xlibris Corporation (2010)
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views (12/10)
Salvador Pancorbo’s “The Seduction of Gloria” carries an interesting subtitle – “A Woman’s Temptation to Defect from Cuba. With Cuba being one of the few remaining bastions of hard-core communism, and pretty much a mystery to most of us, I was more than just a tad interested to delve into this “…fictional story of a fiery international romance between two extraordinary women, Gloria Fernandez, a pediatrician from Cuba and Rosanna Maggiore, an Italian university professor. The story, which takes place in Havana and Rome, is complicated by a chance encounter between one of the women and Roger Larsen, a widower from Minnesota, searching for a new life in Rome. …” The synopsis on the back cover sounded quite appealing, although it gave me a slight pause to see obvious proofing issues on the back cover, including the really bizarre punctuation of “the year 2,000.” Another issue that caught my attention immediately was the fact that the author referred to the “vicissitudes of Cuban physicians attending conferences abroad” while talking of his personal experiences. Since Mr. Pancorbo was born in Cuba, I thought that he might have been able to understand any such leanings and maybe judge them with some more leniency.
And then I started reading the book. The more I read, the less I liked it. Where should I start? The writing was rather rudimentary, with unimaginative descriptions, awkward dialogue, proofreading issues and a few rather abstruse side stories. The story of Vladimir seemed to have no other reason but a miraculous reunion of Gloria and Vladimir down the road, which really did not have any genuine or notable consequences. The sex scene between Rosanna and her uncle Giulio, aside from being quite wooden – and no pun intended here! – was totally superfluous. The introduction of Mario, the Roman guide, only resulted in a lot of facts about Rome, which without exception sounded like reading a very mediocre guidebook on Rome, and certainly did not do justice to that majestic city. It all made me feel exactly as the description of one of the dinners in the book, which included the following: “With the lamb came new potatoes with tarragon and butter. The fragrance of the meat and spices was divine.” Just as much as that did not make me want to taste that dinner, the aforementioned facts on Rome would never make me want to go there.
As for the seduction of Gloria and her temptation to defect, I felt that there was very little of either of those. Jumping in bed does not necessarily imply seduction; and I never felt that she was seriously tempted to defect. Overall, I felt quite disappointed in this book. I believe that there was a good intent and a genuinely interesting basis for an extraordinary story in “The Seduction of Gloria,” but the lacking execution left me cold.