by Bridget Hoida
Plot Summary:Beautiful Magdalena de la Cruz breezed through Berkeley and built an empire selling designer water. She'd never felt awkward or unattractive... until she moved to Los Angeles. In L.A. where everything smells like acetone and Errol Flynn, Magdalena attempts to reinvent herself as a geographically appropriate bombshell with rhinestones, silicone and gin as she seeks an escape from her unraveling marriage and the traumatic death of her younger brother, Junah. Magdalena's Los Angeles is glitzy and glamorous but also a landscape of the absurd. Her languidly lyrical voice provides a travel guide for a city of make-believe, where even Hollywood insiders feel left out.
I was looking forward to reading a novel where Los Angeles plays such an important part as I live in the area, though in not nearly as glamourous an area as are Magdalena's haunts.
A very contemporary novel with a witty, jaded and volatile narrator in Magdalena who must cope with her feeling of guilt over the death of her brother Junah, and her growing estrangement with her husband Ricky. Magdalena wins you over with her fast-paced narrative voice, even as you shake your head over her self-destructive behavior. Magdalena participates in the unique pageantry of the Angeleno elite (cosmetic surgery, disposable cars, alcohol on tap at all times) and yet her commentary can be derisive and self-mocking, and all this is juxtaposed by well-placed flashbacks of Magdalena's more wholesome family life, and her life with her husband before they started a successful business. The poignancy of Magdalena's grief and her struggle to understand the direction of her life provide the main drama in this book.
I was drawn into the story by the writing style of the author which is brilliant and vivid - the author has great ability in fleshing out her characters in words. The sometimes outrageously decadent behavior of the characters can be tiresome, as I think may be the point, and Magdalena's neurosis can also be grating as the novel goes on, but the resolution of all the plot threads is marvelously well done. I am perhaps not the best target audience for this story, people who are interested in flawed characters and how they work through their problems, as well as contemporary reads will find much to enjoy in this novel.
review copy kindly provided by the author in connection with TLC Book Tours. Please click on the image below to visit this book's other stops on the tour.