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, Biography

Reviews Monsoon Mansion

  • 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...
  • Jim Minick
    A beautiful book!
  • 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.
  • Ciara Wilkie
    This novel was very hard for me to read. While my childhood wasn't nearly as traumatic as Barnes's, I could relate in many ways. This novel is poetic. Beautiful prose clashes with the ugly reality Barnes lived through. What starts out as a fairy tale becomes twisted and dark. What I enjoyed about this memoir is that Barnes got out, and much like The Glass Castle there is a sense of hope. Barnes doesn't choose to be bitter, instead accepting this ...
  • david
    (I am going to be slightly guarded here because I believe the authoress will be reading my perspective.)It is true story written by a creative writer who grew up in the Philippines and currently lives in South Carolina/New York.I have always been fascinated by this country although I have never visited it.This proximate memoir opened a world I knew little about. She is a tough one, stronger than most, as are many Filipinos that I have met.The str...
  • 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...
  • Candace
    Absolutely stunning. This is by far the best book I’ve read to date this year, and it’s certainly going on my all-time Favorites shelf. Barnes’ memoir of her rollercoaster childhood in Manila and subsequent triumphant quest for solid ground left me stunned. This is a MUST READ!
  • 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...
  • Joann
    I won this Kindle book in a Goodreads Give-a-way. Thanks to all. This was a heart-breaking memoir of a young Pilipino girl who grew up in a wealthy family in a glittery mansion. Before long, there are problems in the mansion and "riches to rags" memoir is unfolding before her eyes. After a terrible monsoon devastates the mansion, the father leaves the country to try and make his fortune elsewhere. At this young and tender age, the author is basic...
  • 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...
  • Teri Pardue
    An achingly beautiful memoir. Tracking Barnes’ story: a girl three years my junior growing up just kilometers away from my own home was fascinating and meaningful. I learned a little bit, but mostly I enjoyed getting lost in her lyrical prose and surreal imagery that so well captures elements of Manila life for many.“The water at the well smelled rich, not of chlorine, but minerals, the scent of a waterfall cutting through the stench of the g...
  • Kaytee Cobb
    This story feels unbelievable at times. Like, can this all have really happened? But Cinelle Barnes admits right at the beginning that, like most memoirs, some characters may have been combined and some details may have been changed, and childhood memory isn't always the most reliable, but this is a real memoir with real stories about her childhood in the Phillippines. And it doesn't disappoint in terms of drama, suspense, and even horror at the ...
  • 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.
  • Ann Kuhn
    I listened to the Audible version of this book, and I think it probably helped add the fifth star. Hearing her own voice added something imperative.
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • Jennifer Joukhadar
    The bravest memoir I’ve ever read, MONSOON MANSION tells the story of Barnes’ finding her way through a labyrinth of hunger, pain, and cruelty during her childhood in the Philippines and yet still managing to find joy and kindness in those she came across, never losing herself along the way. The writing is gorgeous, luminous and self-assured, a first book from a writer who is sure to become a major new talent. Cinelle Barnes is made of light,...
  • Jackie
    A tragic riches to rags story, Monsoon Mansion: A Memoir, is Cinelle Barnes tale of her coming-of-age in the Philippines. Her mother, a doctor and social climber is intent on living the good life. Her father, a successful entrepreneur, tries to keep his wife happy while making a name for himself. As their successes pile up, the family moves into Mansion Royale, a lush, opulent home in Manila. Yet, as with many fairy tale lives, the downfall comes...
  • 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!
  • Ava Maguire
    Beautiful and captivating story. I loved this book.
  • 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.