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Family, history, and love fire this spirited new novel from award-winning author Kathleen Alcal. Just before 1900, Estela moves with her infant son from a small village to Mexico City, in part to flee her past, in part to be near her lovera society doctor, who she discovers is now married. Estela finds herself swept up into the beginnings of the country's feminist movementwith its unlikely center a wealthy woman who sets up a school for prostitutes and an all-women orchestra. Estela's son, Noe, grows up in this world to become a dissident journalist enmeshed in his own dangerous liaisons. Incorporating characters from Alcal's previous novels but standing complete on its own, Treasures in Heaven weaves a rich and eventful tapestry of people and ideas.
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Kathleen Alcalá received the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association award for her first novel, Spirits of the Ordinary, and the Western States Book Award for her second novel, The Flower in the Skull. She is also the author of the celebrated short sotry collection Mrs. Vargas and the Dead Naturalist. She lives on an island in Puget Sound, Washington.From Publishers Weekly:
This last installment in Alcal 's trilogy of loosely linked novels, which began with the award-winning Spirits of the Ordinary and The Flower in the Skull, resumes the story of well-born Estela and her young son, No . Escaping the scandal surrounding her family and fugitive husband, Zacar!as, Estela and No leave their small town for a new life in turn-of-the-century Mexico City. Soon running out of money and hope, Estela contacts her former lover, handsome Dr. Victor Carranza, only to discover that he is married. Victor helps Estela by introducing her to liberal-minded "La Se$orita," a woman of wealth and style, who uses her money to help the poor. She hires Estela to run a school for the children of prostitutes. Both Estela and No become involved in the birth of Mexico's social revolution, coming of age in a corrupt society where the rich enjoy material treasures, the wise enjoy spiritual treasures and the poor must wait for their "treasures in heaven." Alcal 's extensive research provides pertinent information about the political and economic turbulence preceding the Mexican RevolutionDfrom underground feminist actions to the contradictory roles of the Catholic Church as both agent of insurrection and supporter of the government. Alcal 's championship of the redemptive power of change, one's duty to community and family, equality of the sexes and spiritual enlightenment still resonate, but her saga has lost much of its freshness. Unfortunately, the dynamic historical facts aren't enough to redeem a weak plot and banal characters. The Flower in the Skull disappointed many of those who enjoyed Spirits of the Ordinary; regrettably, this third volume will not restore readers' faith in Alcal , and may fare poorly. (Oct.)
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