A Latin-American novel that has already won world-wide success puts in its bid for the role of best seller in an excellent translation from the Portugese by James L. Taylor and William L. Grossman. Here is a good yarn, a lush story of women and the conquest of Brazil. In the year 19 a filthy pagan girl called Gabriela comes out of the backlands to , a small port in Bahia, where the struggle between feudalism and so-called progress has exploded with the successful painting of cacao. Exotic and corrupt, provincial and prosperous, the town hums with political rivalries, gossip and assassinations. Guckoldry and cacao reign. The case includes a young action of ""high Carioca society"" (coffee money) , born in Syria and called Arab, Colonel Bastos, a Brazilian Baruch conferring to the park, doctors who aren't doctors, generals who never saw service. Nacib hires Gabriela to cook for him and make snacks for his bar. But once she has bathed - and emerged ""clove and cinnamon"" with a rose over her ear, she makes local history, upsets the local mores. The story threads its way through grotesquely amusing religious observances and customs; color and tactile pleasures abound; but throughout there is an awareness that ""there is a civilization to be built"". Latin American history through the keyhole. Refreshingly different, by the author of The Violent Land.