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.