Friday, April 16, 2021

Monsoon Mansion by Cinelle Barnes

I listened to the unabridged audio version of Monsoon Mansion by Cinelle Barnes and narrated by the author. 

I like reading memoirs and also learning about the lives of those born and raised in different countries and cultures... And Monsoon Mansion by Cinelle Barnes fit the bill. As a side note, I am also particularly interested in Filipino culture and Filipino lives as my husband is Filipino-American. Learning about the country, people, and culture he came from is fascinating to me. Monsoon Mansion by Cinelle Barnes is written by a woman born and raised in the Philippines, so I was drawn to her coming of age memoir.

Monsoon Mansion by Cinelle Barnes is a tough read as we learn about the author's family rise and fall from grace and their life of extreme riches to extreme poverty. Life turns on a dime for the author's family as the life of opulence beyond imagination goes south fast and the family is torn apart. It's a story of resilience and overcoming the horrors one is forced to live with as a child due to parents that make poor choices when difficult times come their way. 

It's really the children who seem to suffer the most when their parents make poor choices/decisions after hard times hit. But the author finds a way to overcome the lifestyle mistakes/choices made by her parents and pulls herself out of circumstances that seemed insurmountable. For that I applaud Cinelle Barnes.

Listening time for Monsoon Mansion by Cinelle Barnes is 9 hours, 1 minute. I didn't like the audio quality for this book. I also wish someone else had narrated this memoir instead of the author as I felt her reading of her own memoir was bland.

Below is a summary for Monsoon Mansion by Cinelle Barnes from Audible:
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 Philippines. Filled with her mother’s opulent social aspirations and the gloriously excessive evidence of her father’s self-made success, it was a girl’s storybook playland. But when a monsoon hits, her father leaves, and her mother’s terrible lover takes the reins, Cinelle’s fantastical childhood turns toward tyranny she could never have imagined. Formerly a home worthy of magazines and lavish parties, Mansion Royale becomes a dangerous shell of the splendid palace it had once been.

In this remarkable ode to survival, Cinelle creates something magical out of her truth - underscored by her complicated relationship with her mother. Through a tangle of tragedy and betrayal emerges a revelatory journey of perseverance and strength, of grit and beauty, and of coming to terms with the price of family - and what it takes to grow up.

I also came across this YouTube video of Cinelle Barnes being interviewed by Nia Ita. 

I am giving Monsoon Mansion by Cinelle Barnes a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!


  1. This sounds good to me. Is it only available as an audio book? I have difficulty with that format.

    1. It's available as a physical book or an ebook as well.