This section contains 3,576 words
(approx. 9 pages at 400 words per page)
Eva Luna is the main character in the book and the majority of the novel is told from her standpoint. Born to a servant, without a father, Eva lives a relatively normal life, filled with love, until her mother dies when she is six years old. Eva is raised from that point by her madrina, or godmother, the cook at the estate where Eva's mother Consuelo worked. When Professor Jones, their employer, dies, madrina is forced to find another place of employment for Eva, even though she is only seven. Eva finds happiness with the employer because it is here she meets Elvira, a kindly woman who looks on Eva as a granddaughter. However, there are troubles between Eva and her patrona, a spinster who employees her. After a conflict with the woman Eva flees, and meets Huberto Naranjo, a young boy who will have a profound influence on Eva's life.
Eva winds up in the village of Agua Santa after many years of trials, and finds the family that she has longed for. Living in the home of Riad Halabi and his wife Zulema, Eva feels as if she belongs. It is here that Eva learns to read and write, and is finally able to give voice to the many tales that she carries in her head. Though Eva has no wealth, she has always shared her stories with others, using them as a form of payment for those who have been kind to her.
Throughout the years Eva works many places and suffers many setbacks, however she does not allow life to hold her back in anyway. Whether Eva is learning the consistency of Ultimate Matter, a ceramic matter that will provide the means of freedom for a band of guerrillas, or telling tales that she uses to pay those who have been kind to her, Eva always stays strong. Despite bumps in the road that would normally stop a person in their tracks, Eva finds a way to stay on track and focused, reuniting with friends from long ago, taking care of those that have cared for her, and finding true love along the way.
A journalist who develops a skill for making documentaries that catch the attention of the masses and win him fame and fortune, Rolf Carle starts life as the youngest son of a cruel school master in Austria. Rolf spends his earliest years in fear of his father, but when Lukas joins the army, what should have been a hard time for his family becomes wonderful years of peace and love. Despite the war that rages around them the Carle family feels secure with each other and in themselves.
Things change for Rolf when he grows older and reaches his tenth year. First the Russian soldiers that have occupied his village make all of the townspeople bury the dead in a concentration camp that is on the outskirts of town. Shortly after, Lukas Carle returns to once again rule his family with an iron fist. Rolf's life is once again filled with terror, even though he barely remembers his father.
The horror his father brings divides the family when Rolf's older brother finally becomes strong enough to stand up for his mother. As a result Rolf is left as the only other man in the house and the target of Lukas's wrath. Protecting his mother and his younger sister is a difficult job, but Rolf tries as hard as he can until the day his father is found hanging in the forest, murdered by some of his students. Though Rolf is relieved that Lukas is out of his life, his guilt at not being able to save his family is overwhelming and he becomes sick, feeling he is a failure. Rolf's mother sends him to South America, to the home of a distant cousin, hoping to bring her son back from the brink.
The trip does save Rolf, who thrives in La Colonia, a small town in South America that has maintained the feeling of a town in Austria. Rolf learns about life from his uncle and aunt, and learns about love from his cousins. He also meets his mentor, Senor Aravena, a journalist who encourages Rolf in his documentary skills. Rolf learns as he works, documenting history in the country, learning about the people and their struggles, including Huberto Naranjo, a guerrilla fighter struggling to free the people from a corrupt government.
While dealing with his job and his ideals, Rolf meets Eva Luna, a woman like no other. Despite her upbringing and the trials that she has experienced, Eva is a breath of fresh air to Rolf. The two work with Huberto in a daring raid to free guerrilla prisoners from a penal colony and in doing so draw even closer to each other. In the end, the reader is unsure how the lives of Eva and Rolf turn out, but knows that whatever time they have spent together has made them happy.
Huberto Naranjo meets Eva when she is a young girl and he is a street urchin. Naranjo has lived on the street since he was old enough to take care of himself. Huberto takes Eva under his wing when she runs away from the spinster patrona's home after snatching the wig from her employer's head. Huberto teaches Eva the ways of the street for the few days that she is with him, as well as some of the cons that he works on the people of the capital.
When Eva returns to the capital after fleeing the house of the Cabinet Member, she once again returns to Huberto, but finds him a handsome teen, well in control his life. Eva is immediately infatuated with Huberto who is pleased to see Eva, but looks on her as a sister. Huberto takes care of Eva, placing her in the house of La Senora and providing the money to support her. Eva wishes their relationship was something more but Huberto still sees her as a girl.
Things change when Eva returns to the capital after Zulema's suicide. The two see each other by chance on the street and Huberto realizes that Eva is now a woman. Huberto is now a guerrilla fighter known as Comandante Rogelio to his men. Huberto joined the guerrillas after attending a meeting by chance and finding his true calling. Huberto longs for the freedom of the people and fights to end the oppression by the government. Huberto, long without family, finds that his men are his brothers and he is happy in the jungle with them. Huberto and Eva become lovers, and Huberto loves Eva as truly as he can. Eva does not know the truth about what Huberto has become until two police officers are killed and Huberto's opinion differs from hers. Despite this, Eva still loves Huberto and sees him whenever he is able to.
Huberto works with Eva and Rolf Carle when he plans to break nine of his guerrillas out of Santa Maria, the penal colony. Eva supplies the recipe for Universal Matter so that the prisoners can make fake grenades to scare their captors. Huberto and his men walk through the front gates in stolen uniforms and free their comrades without firing a bullet. By the time the mission is complete, Eva is in love with Rolf, and Huberto knows that the life he lives is not one that Eva can share with him.
Eva's mother, Consuelo is rescued as an infant by missionaries and lives in the jungle until she is approximately twelve years old. The missionaries then send her to a convent so that she can learn how to act like a young girl instead of an animal. Consuelo stays with the sisters at the Convent of the Little Sisters of Charity for a few years, until the sisters place her in the home of Professor Jones. In the professor's home Consuelo works hard but is happy. The professor trusts Consuelo and depends on her without question. Having developed a formula that mummifies people perfectly, the professor's talents are always in demand. Though many try to discover his secret formula, Consuelo is the only person trusted with it.
Consuelo is loyal to her employer and always does as she is told until the day the gardener is bitten by a poisonous snake. The professor instructs Consuelo to bring the man to him when he is dead to be embalmed, but instead Consuelo tries to heal the man. Taking care of the gardener as best she can, Consuelo discovers that the only thing that makes the man feel better is sex. A virgin at 30, Consuelo decides that she is deserving of some joy as well. Eva Luna is conceived during Conseulo's ministrations. The gardener recovers and leaves Consuelo, but she is not sad, instead she is happy that he has left her with a child.
Consuelo delivers Eva alone in her room. The cook arrives and offers to be Eva's godmother. Consuelo consents and tells the madrina that her child will be named Eva, which means "life," and Luna as this was the tribe of her father. Eva is raised with love for six years until Consuelo dies after swallowing a chicken bone while celebrating Christmas. Before she dies, Consuelo tells Eva that she will always be with her, as long as the young girl can remember her.
Consuelo's employer, Professor Jones is a highly intelligent but focused man, who often misses what is occurring right under his nose. Consuelo works with the professor while he embalms bodies, creating such lifelike mummies that the families of the deceased often dress their loved ones and display them at home. The professor also has ideas of striking people with mental deficiencies in the head to restore common sense, and infecting cancer patients with malaria as he has observed that cancer is not as common in countries that have outbreaks of the disease. While Professor Jones is extremely intelligent, he treats Consuelo with medication when she gets pregnant, believing her swollen abdomen is due to indigestion.
The professor dies the year after Consuelo. Eva Luna cares for him in his hour of need and the professor who had never known the girl was in the house grows to love her, believing that she is his family, or perhaps wishing she was. Despite his request that Eva inherit his estate, the church ignores his wishes, leaving the girl to the life of a servant. Despite the odds, Eva takes the things she learned in the professor's home and uses them to her advantage in life, becoming stronger from the lessons she has learned.
Mimi, a transsexual, meets Eva when Eva is a young girl. When Eva first meets Mimi, he is known as Melesio, a male Italian teacher and is the best friend of La Senora. Melesio gets a job as a singer in a cabaret, singing dressed as a woman. Melesio's act is the most popular on the stage, and people of all walks of life come to see him perform. All is well for Melesio and he is happy until a corrupt police lieutenant takes over the area of the red light district. The officer demands more of the people than any other has before and Melesio pens a letter to the authorities, reminding them that they will lose out on their benefits in the area if the lieutenant continues in this manner. Rather than calm the situation, the authorities raid the district and Melesio is taken to Santa Maria, a prison on a island. The man lives there for a year in a group of homosexuals, being abused in horrific ways. La Senora is finally able to free him with bribes and he is taken to a hospital to recover.
Melesio remakes himself, becoming Mimi, a beautiful woman and actress. The country loves him and the intrigue about whether he is a man or woman. Despite the fame, Mimi still longs for one thing, unconditional love. Surprisingly, she finds it in Senor Aravena.
Riad Halabi rescues Eva from the streets of the capital after the raid in the red light district and takes her to Agua Santa. Known in town as The Turk, Halabi is a kind man, always more concerned for others than himself. A cleft lip makes the man self-conscious, and he carries a cloth to cover the lower half of his face whenever he is with someone.
Halabi moves to South America to make his fortune and support his family when he is a young man. A traveling salesman, he never makes a fortune, but does manage to send money to his family so that his brothers can go to school and provide his sister with a dowry. After years of travel, Halabi settles in Agua Santa and builds a shop, The Pearl of the Orient. Halabi names the shop for his wife Zulema. The two marry sight unseen after an arrangement with their families. Zulema cannot get beyond the cleft lip and hates her new home. Despite this, Halabi loves his wife and showers her with presents, hoping to make her happy.
Riad Halabi cares for Eva as a daughter and the two live happily for several years. Even Zulema accepts Eva, and theirs is the first family that Eva is a part of. Things change when Zulema kills herself and Eva is blamed for her murder. Though Riad bribes the officials so that Eva does not remain in jail, the rumors in the small town begin to spread and Riad sends Eva away, unwilling to subject her to the talk. The night before she leaves, Eva kisses Halabi on the lips, the first person ever to do so, and the two make love. Eva longs to stay with him but Riad remains firm, unwilling to allow the girl he loves to sacrifice the life she might possibly live.
The wife of Riad Halabi, Zulema is a selfish woman, intent on remaining unhappy in her marriage. Zulema agrees to marry Riad, believing him to be a wealthy merchant. Despite the fact that Riad does well, Zulema cannot get past the fact that he has a cleft lip. Riad is accustomed to covering his mouth to keep others from seeing his face, but the fact that he must do so for his wife wounds him deeply.
Zulema spends most of her time in bed ignoring people until Riad's cousin Kamal comes to stay with them. When Riad leaves on a trip, Zulema seduces Kamal and the act is witnessed by Eva. The house is never the same, and Zulema slips into a depression when the young man runs away. Though Riad never mentions it, he is aware of what happened while he was away.
Zulema returns to her attitude of uncaring until Riad leaves on another trip, refusing even to be brought out of her depression by Eva draping her in jewels. The woman kills herself while Eva sleeps, leaving Eva to be blamed for her murder. Though Riad does not believe that Eva committed the crime, he knows that Eva will not be able to live in the small town with the gossip that has already started to surface. As a result of Zulema's selfishness, Eva must leave the first place that she felt at home.
The father of Rolf Carle, Lukas is the head school master and a cruel man. Lukas is murdered by a group of his students after the annual school outing. The young men are never punished, as no one in the town likes Carle at all, and their parents hold higher positions in town, such as the judge and police chief.
A horrible man, Carle abuses his children in his effort to raise them as he sees fit, and believes that there is nothing they can do right. The only respite the family gets from his cruelty is when Lukas enlists in the army during World War II. While in the army Lukas can be as cruel as he likes and be commended for it.
The oldest child of Lukas and Frau Carle, Jochen is a disappointment to his father. Despite his size, Lukas considers Jochen a waste, repeating it so often that the boy has no choice other than to believe him. When Lukas is in the army during WW II, Jochen steps up and becomes the man of the family, caring for his siblings and hunting for food. Lukas' return sets the young man back, but he is able to stand up to his father when the man humiliates Frau Carle. Knowing that nothing will ever change, Jochen says goodbye to his family and leaves to make a life of his own.
The second child of Lukas and Frau Carle, Katherina is mentally disabled and spends most of her life hiding under the table to avoid her father. Katherina loves her brother Rolf and follows him around like a puppy. Rolf does not want to leave his sister when he goes to South America, but does so as he knows she will not live much longer.
Though she is never named, Eva's madrina, or godmother, is the cook for Professor Jones when Eva is born. Consuelo consents to have Eva baptized at the cook's insistence. When Consuelo dies, madrina takes care of Eva as best she can. After the death of Professor Jones, madrina finds employment for Eva so the young girl will have room and board.
Eva's madrina eventually goes mad, after giving birth to a deformed baby with two heads, one black, one white. The child is stillborn, but madrina is accused of murder. Unable to find work after all of the news involving her, madrina winds up in a mental hospital where Eva finds her years later. By this time Eva is a grown woman and she finds a better home for her madrina where she can live the rest of her days in peace.
Eva's first employer after the death of Professor Jones, the character's name is never revealed to the reader. A retired bookkeeper, the patrona gives orders faster than she can remember, giving Eva some freedom in her daydreams. When Eva becomes infatuated with a seascape hanging on the wall the woman grows angry, thus invoking the rage of Eva. Eva claws at the woman, snatching the wig from her head. In Eva's youth and confusion, she believes she has scalped her boss, and flees to the city, meeting Huberto for the first time.
The brother of Eva's first employer, the bachelor brother spends his time drinking and gambling. When Eva matures he has the girl wash and dress him, but never molests her in any way. Though his sister is clearly in charge, there are times the brother speaks up and protects Eva.
An unnamed character and one of Eva's employers, the Yugoslavian woman teaches Eva how to make things using Universal Matter, a ceramic-like material.
The woman whom Eva lives with after leaving the Cabinet Minister. La Senora is a friend of Huberto's and makes her living in the red light district in the capital.
Senor Aravena is a journalist at the beginning of the novel, and meets Rolf Carle when he stays at his family's inn. Aravena becomes Rolf's mentor, encouraging him in journalism and his desire to create documentaries. Rolf winds up working for Aravena when the man becomes the National Director of Television.
Aravena produces Eva's story after Mimi arranges for him to read the manuscript. Aravena falls in love with Mimi after the meeting, accepting her/him, for what she is, and loving her unconditionally.
General Tolomeo Rodriquez
Eva first meets Rodriquez when he is a colonel who visits the uniform factory where she works. The colonel wants Eva to become his lover, but she refuses. As time passes Rodriquez is promoted to the position of general and the two meet again after Huberto frees the guerrillas from Santa Maria. The general does not punish Eva for her obvious involvement, instead he asks that Eva convince Huberto to accept an offer of peace.
The cook at the home of the spinster sister and brother, Elvira takes Eva under her wing and cares for her like a grandchild. Eva and Elvira are separated when Eva is fired, but reunite years later when Elvira is deposited in the capital in her coffin after a flood.
The owner of a bar in the red light district, El Negro helps Huberto by relaying messages for him.
A distant cousin to Rolf's mother, Rupert lives in South America with his wife and daughters. Rupert takes Rolf in when he flees Austria and treats him as his own son.
Rupert's wife, Burgel treats Rolf as her son as well. Burgel makes sure to give Rolf a sense of family, and wishes that he would marry one of her daughters.
Rolf's cousins are never named and, as they do everything together, are like one character. The sisters love Rolf when he arrives and as they all mature the three become lovers. The two cousins share Rolf as they do everything else. When Rolf leaves, the two sisters marry two brothers.
This section contains 3,576 words
(approx. 9 pages at 400 words per page)