maya allende1ISABEL ALLENDE

As an infant Maya is abandoned by both her mother and father so her loving Chilean Nina (Grandma) and Popo (Grandfather). She had a very happy childhood with a strict Nina and an indulgent Popo. But when Popo dies her grief is so profound her life falls apart. She assumes a goth persona and starts skipping school and taking drugs. Eventually she runs away to Los Vegas where she is taken under wing of a drug dealer, so at least she isn’t living on the streets. But she has to deliver drugs and get the money. For this she gets shelter, food, nice clothes and drugs. She sleeps during the day and works at nigh, But eventually she does hit bottom. A friend rescues her and gets her into rehab; then Nina sends her to a small island in Chilli to avoid the mafia who may be looking for her.

Allende is a wonderful writer. This is definitely a must read.

Also two of my favourite nonfiction works are by Allende. PAULA is her memoir about her daughter’s death but of course it is so much more. APHRODITE is a natural history of the senses brilliantly written and funny too. I took Aphrodite to a literary potluck and choose a recipe from her book Nun’s Nipples, meringues dipped in chocolate. So much fun.

All three are must reads.


JESS WALTERBeautifulRuins_small-330-exp

Ruins is a wonderful book that travels between times and places telling a story of deep love and affection. Pasquale is a young innkeeper, just back from university and full of ideas and idealism. His first guest is Dee Moray a stunningly beautiful young actress who has come from the set of Cleopatra in Rome, 1962. Pasquale tumbles deeply in love for Dee, who tells him she is dying of cancer.

Then the story begins again in the present time in Hollywood where an elderly Italian man shows up at movie studio looking for the wonderful woman he last saw at his hotel decades earlier. As this main theme of love and redemption plays out we are introduced to a myriad of fascinating characters who add to the richness of the story.

The writing is beautiful: “But aren’t all great quests folly? El Dorado and the Fountain of Youth and the search for intelligent life in the cosmos– we know what’s out there. It’s what isn’t that truly compels us. ”

An entertaining read.