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Jorge Amado is one of the very finest novelists from Brazil. He combines a rich love for people with a sympathetic view of their life complications. Mix in a little humor, and a tragedy becomes comedy . . . yet the serious commentary remains. His amazing imagination makes the mystical seem as real as what you are holding in your hand. It's almost as though you've entered an alien world, yet on the surface it seems familiar. I'm always reminded on Alice in Wonderland when I read one of his novels.
In this story, the statue of Saint Barbara of the Thunder, a highest esteemed icon is on its way for a special exhibition in Bahia. Upon arriving in that fair city, the statue vanishes and the fun begins! Saint Barbara has come to life and begins to travel all over Bahia. Those who appreciate religious belief will enjoy the fun as people are unable to grasp this miracle.
At the same time, there's another story thread. Young Manela wants to enjoy a festival whose roots are of the spiritualist sort. Fearing for her soul, her aunt Adalgisa seeks to avoid this. At the same time, Manela is drawn to a handsome young man whom Adalgisa sees at inappropriate. Will the path of true love prevail? This story thread is used by Mr. Amado to explore the nature of what it is to do good.
The two story lines eventually merge in one powerful river of satire, irony and good humor. When the heavens collide, can mere mortals hold their ground? Probably not. As in Shakespeare's storms, the turmoil in nature and in the heavens eventually affects the people in all sorts of unexpected ways. You cannot escape it. You also cannot escape the good fun and magical quality of this very funny book.
Be sure to refer to the book's glossary to understand the non-English words in the text. That will expand your appreciation of the book.
After you finish, think about where your religious beliefs may sometimes cause you to be intolerant rather than being open to all of God's gifts and children. How can you open your heart and mind?
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