Our Lives Are the Rivers

Our Lives Are the Rivers'Tomorrow, tomorrow,' I said under my breath. Tomorrow I would awake and start my voyage down the river, toward the coast, all the way to the the Atlantic Ocean where Bolívar had died and was buried. Lines by the Spanish poet Jorge Manrique came to mind: 'Our lives are the rivers that flow into the sea of Death.' At sunrise tomorrow, night's darkness would be dispelled for another day. But not for me. Not for me. Not for as long as I lived and remembered. Ahead of me, in a future full of tomorrows, I saw nothing but an unremitting darkness—no moon, no stars. Yet the oncoming darkness did not frighten me, because I knew it would never lift, would never change, would never trick me with a new beginning in which there might blossom again the promise of love, in which happiness would turn to grief. I would float down the river until the day I entered the sea, a dead woman on a raft, en route to eternity. As I closed my eyes, I knew that if I chose to live I would have to go on and on until I met the pitch blackness beckoning at the end of the long road ahead. In the meantime, tonight, I was relieved and thankful that I could not foretell what was ripening for me in time's dim, unknowable womb.

Jaime ManriqueSet against the majestic geography of the Andes, Our Lives Are the Rivers chronicles the enthralling life of Manuela Sáenz, who won her place in history as the great love of South American liberator Simón Bolívar. Abandoning her position as one of the richest women in Lima, Sáenz worked to overthrow the corrupt representatives of the Spanish crown. This led to her introduction to Bolívar in 1822; their attraction was immediate and they remained lovers for eight years until his death. During this tumultuous time, Sáenz—who eventually attained the military rank of colonel—fought in numerous battles on behalf of the freedom movement and was incarcerated, wounded, and finally exiled from Colombia and Ecuador for life.

PRAISE FOR Our Lives Are the Rivers

"Radiant...Our Lives Are the Rivers illuminates a momentous phase in the liberation of colonial South America."
—John Ashbery

"A compelling story that melds history and biography into the context of a passionate love affair...A masterful piece of historical fiction."
San Francisco Chronicle

"An epic page-turner that swells with ecstatic lust and righteous anger, Manrique's latest skillfully recreates an inspired pair, and their times."
Publishers Weekly


New York: Rayo/HarperCollins, 2006.

U.S. Spanish-language edition. New York: Rayo/HarperCollins, 2007. Translation by Juan Fernando Merino.

Bogotá, Colombia: Editoras Aguilar, Altea, Taurus, Alfaguara S.A., 2007.

Madrid: Santillana Ediciones Generales S.L., 2007.

Warsaw: Wydawnictwo Dolnoslaskie, 2007.

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