cover image Jardin de Francia

Jardin de Francia

Elena Poniatowska. Fondo de Cultura Economica USA, $19.99 (430pp) ISBN 978-968-16-8582-9

Poniatowska has a distinguished pedigree that includes Polish ancestry and a French education and sensibility in her upbringing and interests. It is, however, her Mexican literary persona that makes her extraordinary. Poniatowska has authored over a dozen books and novels, most notably on the 1968 Tlatelolco massacre; the Italian photographer, Tina Modotti; and women of the Mexican revolution. This collection of essays, however, begins in 1953, when a young Poniatowska spent time in France and illustrates subsequent visits and observations of the French cultural scene and Franco-Mexican connections. The subjects covered range widely from leading French actors, singers, intellectuals, and artists to humble matters like the proportions of French bathrooms and other architectural icons. Despite balancing a formidable knowledge of two different cultures, the author is accessible and straightforward, even rather Mexican in how she phrases some of her views. (After all, these pieces were generally published by Mexican newspapers.) Unfortunately, original publication dates and titles are not included, details that would be helpful to scholars and historians. Nonetheless, the author makes the links between France and Mexico evident when relevant, presenting essays that are informative and charming and, while brief, capture the essence of the subject. All libraries would do well to buy this book for their collections. Catherine Rend\xF3n, Savannah, GA