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 First novel spinning a love story around ecological themes, set in the Peruvian Andes and Montana. Pilar is a young Runa Indian woman whose identity is shared with her 23 mothers--or maternal ancestors--and she tells their stories as if to carry her race into the future. One such story is the myth that the great condor flies every morning from the East, bringing the sun. Another tells of the invasion of the Incas, yet another of the conquering Spanish. The present, too, is full of travail, for the Sendero Luminoso, violent left-wing guerrillas, have arrived in Pilar's village. They begin a ruthless purification program, and Pilar is threatened, since her knowledge of the past brands her in some eyes as a sorceress. She flees over the mountains along the ancient Inca Road to the village of Ollantaytambo, where she meets a norteamericano named Arnie Wolcott. A clumsy but likable fellow, Arnie is an expert on grizzlies who has come to Peru to census the population of spectacled bears for his master's thesis. High in the mountains, he and Pilar make love, and Pilar follows Arnie to the US as his wife. With some friends, the two undertake to free a grizzly named Celeste and her cubs from the tortures of university research. Mission accomplished, the two part. But Pilar brings a little money home to Peru and buys a nice plot of land far from the Senderistas. Arnie has settled down some, having loved once, but well, and having done a good deed. Splitting the novel into two sections, one told from Pilar's point of view, the other from Arnie's, is jarring. And, given the high romance of this unlikely pair in the first place, to part them seems arbitrary. Far-fetched, then, though pleasant and diverting.

Pub Date: Oct. 10th, 1996
ISBN: 0-87156-354-1
Page count: 276pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1996