Frida : a novel /

A historical novel centered around the life of Frido Kahlo--the colorful, contentious Mexican painter who married Diego Rivera--introduces readers to Mexico in the first half of the twentieth century and the characters that shaped Kahlo's life.

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Main Author: Mujica, Barbara Louise.
Format: Book
Published:New York, NY : Plume, [2002]
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Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Confessions of a guilt-ridden sister spill off the pages of this tell-all historical fiction based on the life of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, as narrated by Kahlo's younger sister, Cristina. Creakily structuredDthe text purports to be a transcription of Cristi's conversations with her psychiatristDand sometimes transparently didactic, the novel paints a detailed picture of Kahlo and her milieu. Bullied in school for being half Jewish, Frida and Cristina grow up in the aftermath of the Mexican Revolution of 1910 in Coyoacan, in the Central Plateau. Cristi, a very ordinary child, often feels eclipsed by her older sister, whether seeking attention from their emotionally distant father or later, from Frida's famous, philandering husband, muralist Diego Rivera. Despite Cristi's jealousies and Frida's insatiable need for attention, the girls keep in close touch when Frida goes away to school in Mexico City and Cristi is forced to take a job to help pay family bills. As Frida's life expands to include marriage to Rivera and travel in the United States, Cristi's world shrinks: she ends up back at home, caring for her two small children and ailing mother. Although events in Mexican history and the adventures of Frida's famous friends make for some intrigue, narrator Cristi is simply not compelling enough to sustain the reader's interest. Her very identity is defined by Frida, and although she professes to love her sister, the bitterness in her voice is evident as she reminds the reader that she was prettier than Frida and that Rivera loved to paint her in the nude. However, there are two movies in the making about Frida Kahlo's life, starring, respectively, popular Latina actresses Jennifer Lopez and Salma HayekDand they could spark interest in all things Frida. Agent, Scovil, Chichak, Galen. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review

Frida Kahlo (1907–54), the wife of Diego Rivera, is currently enjoying posthumous recognition as an accomplished woman and artist. This fictional account, narrated by Frida’s younger sister Cristina, vividly portrays Cristina’s own complex relationship with Frida and Diego and analyzes their characters and art. Less than a year younger than Frida, Cristina observed from early childhood that Frida was more self-confident and precocious. Her father’s favorite, Frida defied her teachers, mocked her schoolmates, and was sexually experienced at an early age. Intellectually curious and strikingly beautiful, she always attracted attention, but childhood polio left her with a limp and a traffic accident made her barren and ultimately destroyed her health. Cristina describes Frida’s association with student radicals, her conversion to communism, her seduction of Diego, and her growing stature as an artist. Frida and Diego married twice; both were often unfaithful; they were friends of people like Leon Trotsky and Paulette Goddard; and in the US they were fêted by the rich and famous. But there was darker side to Frida’s glittering life: Cristina herself became Diego’s lover, and by the time she died, Frida was abusing drugs and alcohol to alleviate the constant pain she was experiencing. As Frida declined, Cristina finally came into her own and was able to help her once-powerful sister. The best kind of fictionalized biography: rich, vibrant, and psychologically astute.

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