2017 READING CHALLENGE RECOMMENDATIONS
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Robinson Street Books
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After the absurd but tragic death of her husband, Maria Encarna turns her granite house in northern Spain into a pension, opening it up to strangers with their colorful stories of demons and wars.
The pension is very much a woman's world: there's Maria, the family's imposing matriarch, known as Maria la Reina -- the Queen -- because of her haughty manner and legendary beauty; Maria's two unmarried sisters, Cecilia and Carmen, the first given to daring culinary experiments and endless melodrama, and the second dedicated to a life of prayer: and Maria's two daughters, Matilde, lost in a world of the imagination, and Asuncion, her mother's favorite -- until she marries Manuel Pousada, the town's most notorious sinner, who marries her only to get closer to Maria la Reina -- the object of his real obsession.
Fueled by the profits of her connection with the contrabandistas, Maria eventually builds a 50-bed hotel and cafe-bar. Through the Spanish Civil War, a dictatorship and the early years of a new democracy, the Encarna women, now joined by Asuncion's entrepreneurial daughter Gloria, become one of the wealthiest families in the town. Yet despite their success and tenacity, tragedy comes calling, usually in the form of a man -- and almost always on a Friday.
In the tradition of Like Water for Chocolate and Antonia's Line, The Bitter Taste of Time is a rich and romantic tale of a family of remarkable women. By turns funny, tragic and touched with a fine sense of magic realism, The Bitter Taste of Time is a hugely entertaining read.
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