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Elena Castedo

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by Elena Castedo   

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Literary Fiction

Publisher:  Grove Press ISBN-10:  0802144270 Type: 


Copyright:  1995 ISBN-13:  9780802134271


Solita, the narrator of the novel Paradise is a girl about 10 years old. She had fled Spain to France with her parents to escape from the dictator Franco, then escaped Nazi Europe with her parents to South America. They lived in poverty when her mother met a very wealthy lady who invited them to live in El Topaz, her lavish country estate filled with exotic fruit trees, palms and vegetables. Solita’s mother tells her it’s Paradise. Her adored father had a job and stayed in the city. Solita loves the animals, the dogs; Beethoven, a German shepherd, Coca-Cola, a sheepdog, Vodka, an Afghan, the terriers Gin and Tonic, horses, a goat, a guanaco, etc. What happens in the El Topaz is a micro-cosmos of society in that country, comprised by the decadent wealthy aristocrats served hand and foot by a platoon of servants; a parade of middle-class visiting regulars, among them a raccoon-eyed dancer, a handsome photographer, a constipated psychiatrist, a hat designer, a senator (Allende), a poet (Neruda), a pianist (Claudio Arrau), etc., the household help, and the suffering peasants. Solita is instructed to play and get along with the owner’s three beautiful, capricious daughters her age, and she must learn to navigate in this unfamiliar, often treacherous world. Her parents’ marriage hangs in the balance. See critical reviews of Paradise from all major papers in and press the Paradise button on the right.

Professional Reviews

No Shelter in the Hacienda
New York Times

Down the Garden Path: An Exile's Tale
Washington Post

Coming of Age with Mami and Papi
Christian Science Monitor

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