Saturday, August 27, 2011

Tarnished Beauty by Cecilia Samartin

Tarnished Beauty: A NovelOnce again, I am left amazed and reeling by the writing of Cecilia Samartin. When I read her work (and this is my 2nd one) I find myself pulling on my hair and muttering to myself, "Now this is a real writer, the kind of writer I only dream of being. My work sucks compared to this."

In Tarnished Beauty, there are two stories, the first one being about Jamilet. The time is... 1950s? (I assumed this because of the reference to Elvis music.) The setting is Mexico. Jamilet has a huge birthmark that covers her back, butt, and the backs of her thighs and upper arms. As a result, the suspicious and unkind people in her Mexican village shun her, throw rocks at her, and set her to dreaming of a better life north, in America where she can get her mark removed. Thus, when her mother dies, she dons male attire and crosses the border illegally.

Here now enters Senor Peregrino, a mental patient? (I'm not saying.) Jamilet tends him in the hospital in which she gets a job. Whereas most people cannot stand the Senor, Jamilet must tolerate him when he holds something over her head. And she listens to his story and she comes to like him. His story involves a love triangle, a jealousy, a pilgrimage in Spain.. He had originally thought he was to lead a religious life, but instead discovered himself drawn to a woman.

Meanwhile, Jamilet is having a love triangle of her own. She has a thing for Eddie, but Eddie is with Pearly... and besides, Jamilet is so determined to hide her mark from him and the world that she may be hiding a huge piece of herself and her heart. 

Extremely well written, just a bit too descriptive and drawn out in Senor Peregrino's parts. (That's how he chose to tell it, however, and it suited his personality.) Aunt Carmen is hilarious!!! I related to Jamilet very well as in a way, her birthmark is a handicap to her (as long as she chooses to let it be.) The ending...I had to force myself to slow down and read it word for word as I was so anxious to find out how it unfolded..

There was a laugh out loud moment: 

"I feel like a piece of sh*t," she said, tears running into her mouth. "No, sh*t is too good for me, too can still see it and touch it. I'm more like a fart, a big silent killer of a fart, a smelly ghost." (This was the aunt.)

Favorite quote: "People who don't drink coffee are weak and feeble-minded; they usually don't have opinions about anything, but if they do, they're afraid to formulate them into words and speak out."

Four stars and I received this from the author. 

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