August 2014 Book Selection

684509We close the summer with The Inhabited Woman (1988) by Nicaraguan writer Gioconda Belli:

This book, by a highly regarded Central American poet, is an intelligent romance, an action-adventure with considerable depth. The German edition alone has sold over half a million copies. Lavinia Alarcon, 23, an aristocrat from “Faguas” (read Honduras), has returned from her university studies in Italy to take her first job as an architect. By the standards of Faguas she is a very liberated woman: She lives alone, frequents discotheques with a group of modern young friends, avoids romantic commitment, and refuses to examine the hunger and violence all around her. Her life is slowly disrupted by her affair with her boss, Felipe, who is a leader in the National Liberation Movement. Lavinia is drawn into the Movement in spite of herself, aided by the spiritual presence of Itza, a 15th-century female resister to the Conquistadors who now inhabits an orange tree in Lavinia’s garden; whenever Lavinia makes fresh orange juice, her spirit and Itza’s become further intermingled. Itza’s story and Lavinia’s run parallel; this is a case not of possession but of spiritual influence. Lavinia’s gradual change from rebel-without-a-cause to guerrilla is carefully detailed and presented as her own destiny. With each small adjustment in her consciousness she leaves her old self farther behind. Felipe also undergoes a slow transformation from a stereotypical macho male into a real companion who can fight with his woman at his side, even if she does come from a higher social class. A gripping page-turner with a historical basis, an action tale that boldly dramatizes an inner struggle. Lavinia is the Everywoman of the 21st century, searching for a balance between the extremes of violence and privilege.

 

Chime in with your insights as you read this novel in our Goodreads discussion forum.  See you there!

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