cover image La Bella Otero

La Bella Otero

Carmen Posadas. Planeta, $22.95 (336pp) ISBN 978-84-08-03877-1

In a book that weaves together history, biography, and fiction, Posadas presents the story of Carolina Otero, one of the most famous figures of the Belle Epoque. A master of manipulating fact and fiction, Otero was known for her sex appeal, her royal lovers, and a gambling addiction that drove her to financial ruin; few knew about the violent rape she suffered as an adolescent. With a disarming narrative style, this novel explores the decadence and darkness of Otero's life, alternating between her scandalous glory years and the decades of poverty she experienced at the end of her life. To tell Otero's story, Posadas, the Uruguayan-born author of Cinco moscas azules (Five Blue Flies, Alfaguara, 1996), combines different narrative voices, a nonlinear plot structure, footnotes, and archival materials in a uniquely hybrid text. In both style and substance, this novel has much in common with recent biographical fiction and pseudo-memoirs about women, particularly those from Latin American authors such as Sara Sefchovich, Angeles Mastretta, and Marcela Serrano. Recommended for academic libraries, as well as public libraries and bookstores with eager patrons of women's writing. Laura Barbas Rhoden, Wofford Coll., Spartanburg, SC