Colombian author Buitrago's second novel—her first to be published in translation—is a bawdy, hilarious soap opera of unrequited love and the magical power of sexuality. As in Laura Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate, erotic passion is linked inextricably with food—but, here, the result is a lot less soulful. Driven by an irresistible whim, the luscious Teodora Vencejos- -the eponymous Se§ora, soul of love and fertility—takes a surprise voyage home to Colombia after having spent four years in Madrid working for Dr. Manuel Amiel, a master of aphrodisiac cookery. Teodora's limitless femininity casts all she encounters under her spell: Her fragrance causes rosebushes to burst into bloom, her touch restores virility to impotent men. Yet Teodora herself is denied the pleasure of sex. She pines for her husband, the handsome wastrel Don Galaor Ucros, who, she dreams, will at last consummate the couple's marriage now that they'll be reunited. But when Teodora comes home, she learns what everyone there has always known: Don Galaor is nothing but a promiscuous drunkard who never loved Teodora and married her simply for her money. Worse, he's become fat, old, and ugly—and, shocked by the sight of him, Teodora falls into an enchanted sleep from which she can be roused only by Dr. Amiel's true love. While Teodora slumbers, her friends consult Maria Lionza, the goddess of love, for advice, and pursue the lovelorn Amiel across the globe via phone and fax. Meanwhile, the entire town is revitalized: Tourists come to bathe in its healing mud (where Teodora fell into her trance, the earth now rejuvenates the middle-aged), and romance and prosperity are in the air. If this sounds wildly over the top, it is—but the reader, carried along by Buitrago's brio, will revel in the excess. Vivaciously translated, Buitrago's novel occasionally veers into bad taste, but this sassy, lighthearted romp is well worth reading: a celebration of love and lust, innocence and sensuality, from a colorful, powerfully female perspective.
Read full book review >