Consider This, Senora

Harriet Doerr, Author Harcourt Brace $21.95 (241p) ISBN 978-0-15-193103-3
``Three North American women, aged thirty-two, forty-two and eighty-three, sit, each alone, trying to remember love.'' In Doerr's (Stones for Ibarra) exquisitely nuanced, elegant and wise second novel set in a little village in Mexico, the characters have briefly left the world to ponder their uncertain futures. Artist Sue Ames impulsively buys 10 acres of land in Amapola with another American, shady speculator Bud Loomis. She is fleeing a disappointing marriage to a man whose mercurial ways have tried her soul. Twice-divorced travel-writer Fran Bowles builds a house on the subdivided land to provide a haven for her latest lover--who is destined to leave her. Ursula, Fran's mother, has come back to Mexico, where she was born, to die. She is the most elegantly realized character, and the one with whom one suspects Doerr most empathizes. Living with the aching memory of conjugal love and the knowledge of imminent death, Ursula searches for the meaning of existence in ``the brilliant patchwork of her never-ending past,'' recalled in poignant memories and crowned by a sentimental tribute to a beloved figure of her youth. In 10 chapters whose vignettes have the vividness of dreams, Doerr creates portraits of the gentle, desperately poor residents of Amapola and the courtly aristocrat Don Enrique Ortiz, who protectively observes the buyers of his ancestral estate. She paints the Mexican setting like a mural: verdant gardens, a parched plain, village houses vibrantly painted the colors of fruit, the ``azure sprawl'' of morning glories clambering over tombstones. In spare, lapidary prose, she evokes heat, dust and drought; drenching rain; the clarity of light; the radiance of the air; the smell of jasmine, and of rot. She observes with irony the ways in which people of different cultures exist in mutual, courteous misunderstanding. But most of all she delicately celebrates the persistence and endurance of past experience, knit by memory into the fabric of life. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/02/1993
Release date: 08/01/1993
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-15-600002-4
Paperback - 242 pages - 978-0-7927-1839-0
Hardcover - 242 pages - 978-0-7927-1840-6
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