The Good Works of Ayela Linde: A Novel in Stories

Charlotte Forbes, Author . Arcade $24 (227p) ISBN 978-1-55970-807-4

This delicately rendered debut episodically delineates the life and times of the most sought after girl in the village of Santa Rosalia, north of the Rio Grande. In "Parasols," set in 1934, Ayela Garzón, a girl from a traditional Mexican family, slips away from her seamstress mother and hooks up with her pal Druanne to meet men in bars. Druanne reverently addresses her friend as "You" throughout, imbuing the elusive, voluptuous, and terribly unimpressed Ayela with lovely indirectness. With each story, time advances, and Ayela marries the besotted Bostonian lawyer Frederick Linde; they find they are hopelessly mismatched, but also terribly in love. Ayela is gradually softened by motherhood and the profoundly decent nature of her gentle husband. One son after the other deserts her for professions and wives; the bride of Ayela's favorite, Freddie, narrates her first encounter with Ayela, and her touching sadness. Ayela's good works are small in scale: she recognizes the dejected gas station attendant's artisanship in making carved swans as incomparable; by 1995, the young night custodian of the local botanical garden sits and listens as the widowed Ayela lays out her picnic and talks of death and decay. This inventive debut deftly renders the full arc of a memorable character's life. (May)

Reviewed on: 03/27/2006
Release date: 05/01/2006
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-1-61145-254-9
Ebook - 122 pages - 978-1-62872-335-9
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