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From Cuba with Love PDF
Monday, 22 February 2010 00:00

altAn exclusive interview with Cuban novelist George H. Freyre
By Paul Whitelock

Jorge (George) Freyre was born in 1935 in Remedios, Cuba, of Lebanese extraction. After studying at university – he has three degrees: in Architecture, International Law and Business Studies - George left Cuba  in 1960, 15 months after Fidel Castro took over the island, to become General Attaché at the Cuban Embassy in Manila, Philippines. 

He was subsequently acting Ambassador for three months before becoming disillusioned with Cuban revolutionary ideals.  He left the diplomatic service and went for a time to Japan and Mexico, before fetching up in San Francisco, USA.  After short spells as a room service waiter, elevator operator, and bank clerk, George was a designer in Paris for two years. In 1975 he came to Gaucín where he bought his first house. He has since sold that and moved into a superb old house overlooking Gibraltar. George, now 74, keeps this house in Gaucín and also a home in Florida and spends his time between the two. He has just completed his first novel – in English – entitled "Cuba, A Cursed Paradise".

By invitation I went along to interview George in Gaucín last August. Over a lunch of Cuban cuisine prepared by George’s great friend, retired chef and restaurateur, James, George talked about his life and his new book.

Paul Whitelock: You have had a very varied career and have lived all over the world.  What brought you to Gaucín?

George Freyre:  I came on holiday and fell in love with the place.

PW:  Being Cuban, you are a native Spanish speaker.  Why did you choose to write your novel in English?

GF:  Simple.  I wanted to improve my English, so decided to try to write my novel in that language.

PW:  Quite a challenge, I imagine?

GF:  Yes, of course.  I’ve drawn on events in my life to inspire the story.

PW:  Can you tell us what the novel is about?

GF:  Yes, it’s a fictional historical novel about an upper-class Cuban family and their friends, set between the US stock market crash of 1929 and New Year’s Eve 1958.  It tells of their struggles, uncertainties, love affairs, intrigues and even crimes, throughout a persistent political crisis that became more and more complicated with the passing of the years.

PW:  The novel is quite long – nearly 600 pages.

GF:  Yes, it’s really a saga, written in the style of a TV soap opera.  Soaps on TV are very popular with the British and Americans, so I think they’ll like my book.  I hope so, as it’s taken me ten years to complete.

PW:  Ten years is a long time.

GF:  You know, a book is like a painting – you’re never satisfied.  You always want to change things.  That’s why it took so long.

"Cuba, A Cursed Paradise" can be ordered from:


©  Paul Whitelock


Paul Whitelock

Paul is a Joint Honours graduate in Spanish and German, a qualified teacher (PGCE) and has a Member of the Institute of Linguists (MIL) qualification.

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