BLISS by Gabrielle Pina


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Living large . . . but living a lie.

Francesca Valentine, world-renowned violinist, sees a tabloid article that reveals her former name and a photo of her formerly very fat self, and wants to die of shame. Her two perfect children, Jessica and Jon, never knew that she was just “a fat black girl from Marietta, Georgia,” born Claudia Jenkins, twin sister of the eternally hungry and flatulent Bone. Her fondness for her mother Willamina’s cornbread, fried chicken, and other soul food gave her a butt big enough to make a piano stool disappear, according to her foul-mouthed daddy, known as the Deacon. He was always trying to distract the miserable but musically gifted young girl when she practiced anyhow. Well, Hattie Mae, a mysterious relative, took matters into her own capable hands and gave Claudia something she doesn’t have to sit on: a violin. Soon, her incredible talent got her accepted into the Atlanta Youth Symphony Orchestra. Again, Hattie Mae stepped in and swept Claudia away to Europe, where she was tutored by an Italian genius (with a rare talent for oral sex). Many arpeggios and orgasms later, she had a new name—Francesca Valentine—and a new life. Now, she has graced the covers of magazines and dined with princes and diplomats, even performed for a US president and one monarch (neither named) for good measure. But something’s missing . . . . Then not Claudia’s but Hattie Mae’s story unfolds in flashback: serving time for murder, she was pardoned by the lecherous governor and released, only to become his personal in-house sex slave. Even though he seems to prefer an inventive and rather repellent form of squirming to actual intercourse, she becomes pregnant. Hoping to give her illegitimate child every advantage in life becomes her obsession—and she finds a young pregnant girl to stand in for her as Claudia’s mother (this would be Willamina, mother of Bone).

Over-the-top melodrama, but not without its own preposterous charm.

Pub Date: Sept. 17th, 2002
ISBN: 0-375-76103-9
Page count: 256pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2002