BREAD AND STONES by Ellen Alexander Conley


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Here, from the author of Soon to be Immortal (1982), a lively, un-trendy novel of a modern woman's mid-life crisis, as well as an absorbing account of poverty and revolution in South America. Dr. Liat Bloom is a 40-ish Manhattan doctor who has a life that many might envy: a kind, sexy husband; two bright, handsome children; and a good job teaching at a medical school in Philadelphia. But, of course, something is missing--she finds herself yearning for her days in the Peace Corps, 15 years ago, when she practiced real medicine at Schweitzerville, a clinic in the impoverished mountains of Colombia. So with surprising ease, she pulls up stakes and heads there for a six-month stay. She's welcomed by the committed but smiley-faced bland American missionaries, but it's two Colombians who change her life: Merta Diego, a fiery midwife who is secretly a member of the April 19th revolutionary group, and Dr. Marques de Botero, the gaunt, caustic heir-apparent to the clinic who bullies her until he realizes she's not just a rich American M.D. slumming. Together, Merta and Marques (with whom Liat is soon having an affair) introduce her to the everyday horrors of the place--the unimaginable poverty, the diseases long since eradicated in America, the cruelty and neglect of the Government. After Merta is brutally murdered by the Federales, Liat gives an impassioned speech and is forced to leave by the powers-that-be at the Clinic, who feel she's endangering their precarious ""non-political"" position. But as a final gesture, she goes to a museum and steals a relic of Simón Boliíver (his mummified tongue), promising Marques to exhibit it, along with a manifesto from the April 19th group, in America. In all, despite the weak ending, a graphic, impassioned tale of one woman's transformation.

Pub Date: Sept. 29th, 1986
Publisher: Mercury--dist. by Kampmann (9 East 40 St., New York, NY 10016)