WOMEN WITH BIG EYES

Angeles Mastretta, Author, Amy Schildhouse Greenberg, Translator , trans. from the Spanish by Amy Schildhouse Greenberg. Riverhead $22.95 (384p) ISBN 1-57322-346-8

Thirty-nine indomitable aunts are captured in a series of lyrical snapshots in this autobiographically inspired collection, a bestseller in the award-winning author's native Mexico. Mastretta (Lovesick) originally conceived these brief stories as a way of telling her daughter about her long line of powerful female ancestors; the resulting fictional series of portraits delivers charming lessons in life and love. Among the most memorable of Mastretta's big-eyed women are dutiful Aunt Leonor, her only clandestine desire a craving for medlars, a bittersweet fruit; Aunt Paulina, who meets a Jewish musician and learns that neither love affairs nor works of art are ever quite complete; Aunt Natalia, who dreams of becoming a mermaid; Aunt Fátima, who is courted by the same man for 10 years and discovers that "love, like eternity, is a yearning"; Aunt Daniela, who "fell in love the way intelligent women always fall in love; like an idiot"; and Aunt Ofelia, who never shares her troubles with anyone, determined to "wrinkle up" with smile lines rather than "wrinkle down." Homing in on the essence of each aunt, Mastretta also captures the flavor of her native Puebla: "...the volcanoes, the sky, the mole, the chalupas, the national anthem, the highway to Mexico City... the bittersweet chocolates, the music, the smell of tortillas...." This edition includes the full Spanish text and showcases Mastretta's engaging ability to capture the pivotal moments of a woman's life, when everything changes or begins to make sense for the first time. Though the translation can sometimes be rocky, this celebration of womanhood will captivate readers who enjoy Isabel Allende and Laura Esquivel. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 09/15/2003
Release date: 11/01/2003
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