Monsoon Mansion by Cinelle Barnes

Monsoon Mansion

Told with a lyrical, almost-dreamlike voice as intoxicating as the moonflowers and orchids that inhabit this world, Monsoon Mansion is a harrowing yet triumphant coming-of-age memoir exploring the dark, troubled waters of a family’s rise and fall from grace in the Philippines. It would take a young warrior to survive it.Cinelle Barnes was barely three years old when her family moved into Mansion Royale, a stately ten-bedroom home in the Philipp...

Details Monsoon Mansion

TitleMonsoon Mansion
Release DateMay 1st, 2018
PublisherLittle A
GenreAutobiography, Memoir, Nonfiction

Reviews Monsoon Mansion

  • Jim Minick
    A beautiful book!
  • Julia Wesley
    Wow. I normally shy away from memoirs. They make me feel like an ambulance chaser. Also, how do I trust them? Memories are so flexible, influenced by emotion and our own brain’s desire to protect itself. How do you fit an entire life in 230ish pages? And such a tumultuous one at that? I don’t know. I have no desire to do it myself, and even if I did, I’m positive I couldn’t do it with even a single iota of the poignancy Barnes does. The b...
  • Devon
    This was somehow an easygoing read, yet harrowing. It’s truly is lyrical, almost poetic, oddly. Considering Barnes has had so much time to think about her past, to carry such a heavy weight, she is able to detail the chronology from riches to rags, physical (and metaphorical) deterioration of her Mansion Royale, to her present day. This book comes in as a light and steady rain, but as it goes on, you get thrown into the storm.
  • Mary
    The most beautiful book I have read this year. It is a gift. It gives one hope that all will be right on the morrow. It is a gem. It is very very precious. Taste it in the narrow of your bones and savor it.I hope this sista keeps on writing. The world is blessed to hear her voice. I read it in one day and could not stop until it ended.
  • Nia Ita
    A MUST READThis moving and thought-provoking memoir by VONA alumn, Cinelle Barnes, was magical. Cinelle tells her story of moving into a mansion in the Philippines when she was three years old. A mansion purchased by her mother’s inherited wealth and her working father’s oil industry money. Stricken by a monsoon and financial struggles, Cinelle’s home literally and figuratively begins to fall apart. Eventually, she is left in a decaying man...
  • Jacqueline
    This book is okay. I got it for free through Kindle First instead of my usual choice of thriller, to diversify a bit. The author definitely has weathered many storms (and monsoons, literally) and there’s a great story here, but the writing was too overwrought and flowery for me. She paints evocative landscapes and ties the physical and political destruction of the Philippines to the personal damage she experienced growing up, but I couldn’t r...
  • Liz
    A powerful memoir of neglect and abuse set in the Philippines.  The daughter of a cruel, narcissistic mother and a kind, driven, and ultimately absent father,  Cinelle Barnes grew up in a mansion in Manila. Her mother was the epitome of snobbery and entitlement, based upon the belief in her own birthright of class and inherited social standing. In her unstable mind, she deserved a life of luxury and the deference of her many servants. A stunnin...
  • Goth Gone Grey
    An inspirational memoir, made of lightI enjoy memoirs, exploring the world from the comfort of my couch, snuggled in under a warm blanket with a cup of hot tea. The cover art and brief synopsis intrigued me for this book, which was a compelling read. As the story starts, the narrator is young, in the Philippines, a privileged girl in a mansion with servants. Her mother enjoys fine things, name brand clothing, while her father works hard to provid...
  • Jean
    Monsoon Mansion is a powerful memoir of the author's experiences growing up in Manila. Parts of it read like poetry, parts like fairy tales, and some of it is imbued with great sadness. Cinelle's parents lived the high life in the Mansion in the 1980s.There were grand parties, dozens of maids, and the finest of everything. When all the money was spent, the mansion continued on, trapping Cinelle in a nightmare existence with her mother, her mother...
  • Christine Sorrell
    Mesmerizing and amazing!As an American born Chinese woman, this book touched upon so many facets of my own life, especially since I too have amother who has been broken and made into a narcissist because of her family’s loss of prosperity due to her native country’s political unrest and turmoil. The author’s colorful and poetic description of the Philippines even reminded me of my upbringing in Malaysia. I too am living in the Carolinas aft...
  • BLS and QF
    Beautiful and poeticI really enjoyed this book, such beautiful prose, her writing feels almost poetic. The author brings to life her childhood in Manila and the fall of her family's wealth. Her story is written chronologically starting with her premature birth, weighing only 2 pounds, she managed to survive despite odds against her. So too will she survive tumultuous family dynamics between the loss of their social position and of her mother, fat...
  • Carol
    OutstandingBarnes is in equal turns poetic, graphic, fantasical and gritty. She has bloomed from an exotic and chaotic childhood and adolescence into a gifted author. Her story so mesmerized me I read it in one day.
  • Alicia Urban
    Wow!What Insight into another world of pain and survival. Great writing about struggles and winning despite being surrounded by evil and decay. Exhausting, intriguing and highly recommended.
  • Lori Livesay
    There is so much to love about this book that I don’t where to begin. Should I start with the writing? The author’s sense of place is sensual, palpable, and the scenes so beautifully descriptive that the mansion becomes another character in the novel. It lives and breathes and screams and dies. Barnes’ characters are fully realized through description, dialogue, and action. They felt foreign and exotic, yet familiar to me at the same time. ...
  • Paige Erin
    I blasted through this book about a little girl living in a deteriorating mansion as her life similarly crumbles and shifts into a chaotic life of neglect poverty and constant struggle. Sometimes Barnes, the author did not focus on things I wanted to know or thought as important such as the fate of her brother or her mother. The epilogue type final chapter did little to inform fully how things turned out for them. So much focus went into making t...
  • Vivian
    From my editor's letter:How do you define your relationship with your mother? Was it tender and full of love? Or perhaps it was distant and confusing? The role of a mother can be complicated, and author Cinelle Barnes masterfully and tenderly depicts her mother in every facet, from small, gentle moments to the more frighteningly violent and spiteful flare-ups.Monsoon Mansion is a memoir of Cinelle’s childhood growing up in a fairy tale of a man...
  • Carrie Templeton
    Magical and mortifyingBarnes does more than just tell her story in this memoir, she exposes her soul. Through the ups and downs of life in the mansion, this book is beautifully painful to read. The resilience, strength, and love built of hardship are so exquisitely portrayed. I'll definitely keep an eye out for future work!
  • Hannah
    I chose this as my Kindle Unlimited First Reads book this month, and I am so glad I did. This book definitely inspires a wealth of emotion: anger, sadness, admiration, and hope chief among them. Lyrical is used to describe the writing and it's spot on. I actually got a magical realism vibe. You almost forget it's non fiction. But this is a true story, and it will break your heart. Yet I said you will also feel hope, and that is no lie. It's impos...
  • Cheska
    It's nice to stumble across a book written by a Filipino. I hungered for the scattered Tagalog words, and though my childhood was nowhere near like hers, I too hungered for the maternal love with her ghost-child sought. The writing was more dream-like and hazy, but I still enjoyed her story.
  • Susan
    Wow! I had to keep reminding myself this was not fiction, this really happened. I admire Cinelle's ability to write with such clarity about the pain and joy of her years growing up. An excellent writer. I look forward to reading more of what she writes.
  • lee
    IncredibleAn intriguing look of how a family descends from wealth to poverty! A young girl's survival in unimaginable circumstances! Most of all the belief in herself above all else! You can't help but fall in love with her and cheer for every accomplishment she strives for!
  • Kay
    When I first started it, I didn't like it. I found the cataloguing of all the cushy things the rich enjoy kind of wearing. But the things Barnes went through...holy shit. The beauty she created from the incredible hardships she went through is breathtaking. The narrative of her childhood carries you and the adjective storm dresses it up. Absolutely lovely, and heartbreaking.Content warning for sexual abuse of a young child (minimal details), emot...
  • Lisa Santos
    A beautiful and harrowing story. The author has a true gift of storytelling. I was immersed in every chapter. This might be my favorite book of the year.
  • Erin
    Lyrical. Beautiful. Brutal. Cinelle Barnes’ memoir is reminiscent of Isabelle Allende’s early works, transporting readers to the Philippines of her childhood and the decaying glamour of the mansion in which she lost her childhood and found her identity as a writer. I read this book in a single sitting. What a story!
  • Ron Cassady
    Too hard to believe, but true!An excellent read. Got it for free. What a bargain! A story so unbelievable you think it's fiction. Beautifully written from a land faraway. A real eye-opener. The Philippines....never want to go there 😢.
  • Sarah
    Monsoon Mansion is pure magic. I haven't cried over a book in 20 years. This is a story of a young immigrant girl and her resilience to save her soul from a mansion, a life she didn't choose and ultimately becomes a warrior using her words as swords, for survival. This book gives so much hope and insight to life in the Philippines where literature is missing. There is politics, love, class systems, friendships and angels throughout. No matter how...
  • Hannah
    "Monsoon Mansion" is a memoir that describes Barnes' turbulent childhood in the Philippines during the 1990s. Born to wealthy parents, Barnes lived a life of luxury in an opulent mansion until her parents were hit by financial troubles. Her parents split up, her father moved out, and her mother's abusive boyfriend with political aspirations moved in. The memoir recounts the hardships she endured through the age of 12, when she left her mother and...
  • Bianca Vega
    This memoir is beautiful. The writing, as mentioned, is lyrical and easily rolls from one page to the next, making you feel as if you are reading a song that is being sung to you. The choice of words is powerful, the images created grip your heart. There is a clear theme of water and how it represents cleanliness, loneliness, yet strength and power and serenity and LIFE. The memoir is amazing, but very very tragic and heartbreaking. As a reader I...
  • Pamela
    A tale of honesty and braverySurprisingly honest and brave story telling. It's most difficult to open up about the truth of how our own formative experiences can be scars we have to navigate as we try to experience life in a normal way. This is especially true if our lives are no where near the normal that others experience. Cincelle's story of survival and thriving is compelling and her writing style is imaginative and engaging. It's wonderful t...
  • Anastasiya
    I had much higher expectations for this memoir, based on the high praise from other reviewers.What others praised as lyrical prose seemed meandering and rambling to me. The author has clearly lived a very fascinating life worth writing about - but she wrote about it in the most boring way possible, skipping over explanations and valuable details that would add impact to the story, instead wallowing on the dramatic and focusing on aspects that add...