A Woman of Endurance by Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa
A Woman of Endurance Book Cover A Woman of Endurance
Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa
Historical Fiction
April 12, 2022
Hardcover, Audio

Combining the haunting power of Toni Morrison’s Beloved with the evocative atmosphere of Phillippa Gregory’s A Respectable Trade, Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa’s groundbreaking novel illuminates a little discussed aspect of history—the Puerto Rican Atlantic Slave Trade—witnessed through the experiences of Pola, an African captive used as a breeder to bear more slaves. A Woman of Endurance, set in nineteenth-century Puerto Rican plantation society, follows Pola, a deeply spiritual African woman who is captured and later sold for the purpose of breeding future slaves. The resulting babies are taken from her as soon as they are born. Pola loses the faith that has guided her and becomes embittered and defensive. The dehumanizing violence of her life almost destroys her. But this is not a novel of defeat but rather one of survival, regeneration, and reclamation of common humanity. Readers are invited to join Pola in her journey to healing. From the sadistic barbarity of her first experiences, she moves on to receive compassion and support from a revitalizing new community. Along the way, she learns to recognize and embrace the many faces of love—a mother’s love, a daughter’s love, a sister’s love, a love of community, and the self-love that she must recover before she can offer herself to another. It is ultimately, a novel of the triumph of the human spirit even under the most brutal of conditions.

A Woman of Endurance by Dahlma Llanos Figueroa

A beautiful contradiction of harrowing and inspiriting historical fiction novel, A Woman of Endurance by Dahlma  Llanos-Figueroa is a monumental novel. This book will consume you as a reader and incite a viewpoint that could never be parted from your memory.

A Woman of Endurance is a historical fiction novel that takes place during the intercontinental Slave Trade, more primarily in the haciendas of Puerto Rico. This premise being a rarely depicted one in any sort of media yet this harrowing story of enslaved individuals should be a required read for all historical fiction fans.

Pola stripped away from the motherland

The story primarily follows Pola and her journey from being forceful stolen from her motherland, to the torturous journey to Puerto Rico. After being beaten to the brink of death by her most recent owner, Pola is sold to another. She awakens in the new hacienda and days pass and she recovers more than physically.

Pola’s interpersonal journey is one that is fully immersive one. The way Llanos-Figueroa penned this story with heavy and guttural details and also evokes a complicated array of emotions truly leave me in awe as a reader. What a story teller Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa is, just wow.

At first Pola’s righteous rage (waking in the new hacienda) is truly the drive of the story. As well as the lush details of the island, the coquis creaking at night, the earthy smells set such a powerful back drop that rivals Pola’s character development. She is deep with stories that each alternating chapter reveals. Some chapters show the past, others are the “present.” Her suffering comes from many places, but the most prominent haunting is being used a breeding slave. Never having the opportunity to meet or grow to love her babies, as they were snatched away from her as soon as they were born. The vacant hole this leaves in her soul is the fuel to her pain, the pain she spews whoever she crosses path with.

Pola’s recovery

“We all carry our nightmares in unspoken places. The details are different, but the outcome is the same. They want to steal our humanity, to ease the weight into their own souls. Don’t you let them.”

As best as Pola could recover in those circumstances, is where the magic of this book resides. She is so scorned at first, rightfully so. As she spends more time in this new hacienda, Pola learns how to take her past as lessons in wisdom. She also learns what friendship can achieve. Each slow interpersonal moment in Pola’s journey is worthy of experiencing with her as a reader.

Final thoughts

Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa truly crafted a monumental story. All the vivid details made reading A Woman of Endurance an HD reading experience, I was so immersed in every chapter, completely tuned in to the slightest nuanced moment. Dripping with what I know has to be truth this book may be fiction, but Pola and so many other’s experience written in here is explicitly the truth. With so very little books or media telling the complicated history of the intercontinental Slave Trade, especially regarding to Puerto Rico, I absolutely know the rare gem I hold in my hands with this novel. I will never be the same because of what A Woman of Endurance has taught me.

I encourage all who love historical fiction that depicts hidden and unspoken moments of history to pick up A Woman of Endurance by Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa.

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