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The Divine Husband
by Francisco Goldman

Several years ago, I read Goldman's The Ordinary Seaman and loved it. So I finally picked up this more recent novel of his, because it sounded equally interesting. Alas, it was quite the disappointment. Set in the late 19th century, The Divine Husband follows the tale of Maria de las Nieves Moran from her youth in an unnamed Central American country as first a schoolgirl then a novice nun through her young adulthood which eventually lands her in New York City then Massachusetts. The narrative also takes a close look at the lives of Maria de las Nieves love affairs and suitors, who include a great Cuban writer and revolutionary, an half-American adventurer, a clever and devoted entrepreneur, and at least two foreign dignitaries.
The story and characters had a lot of potential, but none of it worked. There was too much sprawl and not enough sweep - the story never hung together properly. The changes of focus were also largely unsuccessful. I always felt like there wasn't enough of Maria de las Nieves in the story, even though she was nominally the main character. At the same time, when the narration switched over to the stories of the suitors and lovers, I felt like they were treated too distantly. All of the elements were fine individually, they just never added up to much.
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