Thursday, November 17, 2016

Cover Studies and Prologue of Cecilia Brainard's Novel "Magdalena"

The University of Santo Tomas is publishing the Philippine edition of my novel, Magdalena. I'm sharing the cover studies for this book.  There were elements I liked in all three, but I finally chose the one with the human face -- above. The mood of this one is quiet and pensive and low-key, like the main character Magdalena.  I'm pasting below the beginning of this novel. You can find the American edition of  the novel, Magdalena, in

Excerpt from the novel, Magdalena, by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, all rights reserved.
Prologue of Magdalena, a novel by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard
Soon after I found out I was pregnant, I decided to write my mother’s story. I never actually knew her although all my life I’d heard about her. She was not someone real, but was the nighttime stories of my grandmother, the wistful anecdotes my Tiya Estrella would sometimes relate. She was the faded photograph of a cautious-looking woman with a wistful smile, good-looking, yes, but with a strain around her eyes and lips. She was the bundle of letters, photographs, and journals that my grandmother kept at the bottom of her armoire. She was bits and fragments of words and paper and cellulose — ethereal, a ghost I could not pin down.
I’d grown up knowing my mother died at the delivery table, and it wasn’t until I was in school when I realized that the other children’s mothers hadn’t died during childbirth. Once I had asked my grandmother about that; I had asked her if I’d killed my mother. “No,” she had said. “No, it was not your fault.”
“Then whose fault was it?” I asked.
“Her father’s family is to blame.”
I was young then and spent a lot of time wondering how my grandfather and his family killed her. I used to badger my grandmother for information about the Sanchez family, but all I got was that they were a wealthy bunch. Before she died, my grandmother did tell me the truth about my mother’s real father. Finally, I understood the reason behind her lack of forthrightness, why for decades she had kept this a secret.
A secret has tremendous power. My grandmother had used her secret as a weapon, but the strange thing is the secret in turn possessed her, held her captive. For years, she guarded her secret carefully, never thinking, never expecting that her own daughter would have the same sort of secret.
My mother’s secret had to do with who my father was. For years my grandmother refused to talk about him. She looked at men as irrelevant in the matter of childbearing — I sprung from my mother’s womb, and my mother had sprung from hers. But I knew early on that I wasn’t just my mother’s daughter, that someone else’s blood coursed through my veins. I could see it in my pale skin and the hazel sparks of my eyes; and I could see it in the faces of people who stared at me in a knowing way. Sometimes when I glanced at the mirror in semi-darkness, I could see his shadow flitting across my face and sometimes I tried to catch him, but my hands met only the frightened face of my mother’s daughter. My Tiya Estrella gave me pictures of my father. From her I learned my father had been an American captain stationed in Mactan during the Vietnam War; and I found out that his plane was shot down while on a mission in Vietnam.
When I felt life within me, I knew it was time to turn their secrets into stories. And so I started writing. I started out writing about my mother, then my grandmother, and to my surprise about other family members. They would come to me in dreams and thoughts, when I least expected it, begging to have their stories written, to have their secrets revealed. Even they must have realized it was time to release those festering secrets once and for all.
I have done my best; I have used whatever guile in storytelling I know to record their stories. It is done. I am ready. When this child in my belly will come to me and say, “Tell me…” then he can have it all, everything I know about these people whose blood he carries within himself.

Read also
Fiction: The Syrian Doctor in Paris by Cecilia Brainard

Chapter from Cecilia Brainard's novel The Newspaper Widow

Tags: Philippines, Philippines, Filipino, writing, novel, fiction, stories, books, writers, authors, novelists

This is all for now,

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