Prospero's Daughter Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Prospero's Daughter

Virginia Sinclair comes of age and tries to free herself of her tyrannical British colonial father. In 1942, British medical doctor and experimental scientist Peter Gardner is exiled from Great Britain. British medical authorities sneak into his well-guarded and fortified lab on night to discover remnants of illegal experiments with human cadavers. It turns out Garder's been experimenting with growing human body parts. Gardner and his newborn daughter are swiftly escorted to the shore, where they jump ship across the Atlantic, landing in on a coastal leper colony on the island of Trinidad.
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Peter's daughter Virginia grows ill during the voyage. She runs a high fever and is plagued with bouts of intense nausea; the result of seasickness combined with homesickness. Against overwhelming odds, the toddler survives the voyage; she pulls through seemingly by strength of will alone.

On dry land, Peter meets Carlos, a young Black Trinidadian orphaned by the very storm that brought the Gardner's ashore. Peter and his daughter move in with Carlos, his former family servant Lucina, and Lucina's daughter Ariana.

Virginia comes of age in this household, dominated by her father's aggressiveness and sense of racial and colonial superiority. Though she never challenges him outright, Virginia rejects her father's racism. She and Carlos develop a close friendship. Eventually, they become an item. Peter detests the thought of his daughter in love with a Black boy. At the same time, Peter struggles with thoughts and fantasies of taking his daughter's virginity himself. To quell himself of these desires, Peter takes Lucina's daughter Ariana against her will. At night, Lucina can her her daughter being raped and sexually abused by Peter. She feels powerless to protect her daughter against this tyrant of a man.

Virginia and Carlos consummate their union in a night of passionate lovemaking. Peter decides to call the British authorities and report their consummation as a rape. When the officer arrives to investigate the claim, he uncovers the truth of Peter Gardner's forced "relationship" with Ariana. The officer is morally conflicted about what to do. He knows that Peter's behavior is abhorrent, but he feels a kinship toward his fellow colonial compatriot. He struggles mightily over the decision and nearly kills himself on account of his torn nature about it. In the end, he declines to press charges.

With no better means available to him to rip Carlos and Virginia apart, Peter announces his intentions to betroth Virginia to a wealthy British planter in a nearby town. A few days later Virginia and Carlos run away, eloping to a distant town where they marry, bear children, plant crops, and enjoy their adult family life free from Peter Gardner's iron fist.
Best part of story, including ending: In the tradition of The Tempest, the story is written quite lyrically. There's also a great deal of self-referencing humor. Nunez plays with the form and function of literary prose; the resulting work is quite engaging and delightful.

Best scene in story: Carlos and Virginia are caught kissing by their father. It's Virginia's first time kissing a boy. It's all very innocent until Peter starts berating them for crossing lines that, in his judgment, should not be crossed. After Peter leaves the room, the two go right back to kissing, without a thought to Peter's tirade. This scene demonstrates the fresh and untainted nature of the love between Carlos and Virginia; a love made all the more pure by all the displays of hatred, fear, and chaos surrounding it.

Opinion about the main character: Virginia is bold, funny, and enraged at her father's colonial ideology. She is at once a visionary and a romantic. He sense of justice and her loyalty to love never waver. She reminds us of what's really important; and she gives us hope that despite all the injustices of the world, we all can strive to make our tomorrow a little bit better.

The review of this Book prepared by Jessica a Level 2 American Robin scholar

Chapter Analysis of Prospero's Daughter

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   very sensitive (sigh) Time/era of story    -   1930's-1950's Romance/Romance Problems    -   Yes Kind of sex:    -   rape Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Taboo sex story?    -   Yes Lover is    -   of a different race (interracial loving!)

Main Character

Gender    -   Female Profession/status:    -   wealthy Age:    -   a teen Ethnicity/Nationality    -   Black (American)


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   5 () Island?    -   Yes Island:    -   stranded    -   Caribbean Islands Small town?    -   Yes Misc setting    -   fancy mansion

Writing Style

Sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   vague references only    -   descript of kissing    -   touching of anatomy    -   rape/molest Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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Elizabeth Nunez Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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