Tin House. Jul. 2019. 240p. ISBN 9781947793361. $19.95; ebk. ISBN 9781947793378. F
It’s 1937, Hitler is in power, and American heiress Leonora Calaway is stockpiling so-called degenerate artworks to keep them safe and transporting both them and a group of surrealist friends to Costalegre, the luxuriant Mexican paradise she calls home. She has taken along her teenage daughter, Lara, who narrates the story, offering an intimate look into the art world and the complicated and precarious relationships among the people her mother has gathered. Lara keeps a diary, illustrated with a few of her sketches, exploring her own amorous feelings and describing her frustration with trying to get her mother’s attention. By the end, Lara realizes that although these surrealists believe that passion and nightmares are important, “they don’t value simplicity, which is how I think of love.”
VERDICT Inspired by Peggy Guggenheim and her daughter, Pegeen, this mother-daughter dysfunctional relationship is beautifully explored by Maum (Touch) in a soul-searching, atmospheric novel set in a hot, humid climate as torrid as the affairs of the characters who inhabit it.

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