Yes, the title of this blog update is a book. Yes, I reading it. But no, it’s not trashy women’s erotica. However, it is one of the most bizarre books I’ve ever read.
I picked up the book in Guaymura; a Honduran publishing house and book shop in the centre of Tegucigalpa. I can’t remember when, but I know I bought it to provide me with information for my own writing about Honduras. As you can see, the title is as naff, and the cover is a shade of pale pink that doesn’t do the book justice at alland would probably have even a little girl barfing over a tea cup set. In fact, I was hovering around the bookshop for about 20 minutes wondering whether to buy it, not because I wasn’t intrigued by it’s synopsis about a lady in Honduras shacking up with a gringo Priest, but because I didn’t want to be seen dead exchanging well earned money for this book with a ridiculous cover by the lady at the cashier, a thickset woman, machista, and who looked like she would beat me all day in an arm-wrestle. I still feel a bit embarrassed walking out the house with it, especially in a country where machismo is rife.
However, we all know about the cliché about not judging a book by its cover.
It is not the best written book in world. There are lots of abundant sentences and clichéd sentimentality which I hear everyday from many middle-aged Honduran women. The pace and flow of the writing is not expert; plotting her life in a strange chronological order that leaves you wondering where you are in her life. She’s so damning about people who have mistreated her, but then quickly changes her attitude by being best friends on the next page, which makes her seem either bipolar and absurdly forgiving.
However, despite the style of writing, title and front cover, it is very engaging. It is an autobiography of a Catholic lady from Las Limas, a rural town in Olancho, Honduras, who suffered domestic violence, discrimination and sexism throughout her youth. She falls in love with a Priest and they end up marrying, moving to Boston, US, and having a family. It’s certainly some life she’s had, and I’m gripped, even though you can foresee events happening a mile away.
One of the reasons I like it is that Cándida seems a very sweet, resilient person. This makes me feel guilty about the criticism I wrote above. It’s quite a strange thing to like about a book, but I don’t know how else to define it. You build a respect for her humble naivety and perseverance. The devil on my shoulder tells me that I couldn’t care less about the tales she recounts, but there is that salt of the earth way of thinking she possesses which I identify with and have witnessed in small towns throughout Honduras. Maybe it’s something to do with the traditions and religious customs that people must abide by to stay out of reach of the town’s gossip. There lies a fear of God that I don’t understand nor agree with myself, and she goes into depth about the shame and guilt being in love with a priest and the persecution dished out by the town’s people and members of the church which seemingly scarred her for life. Idle or vicious gossip plagues most little towns around the world. In Honduras, people love it, quite simply because they love to talk.
I like her description about everyday life in a rural Honduran town. Despite the gossip described above, people in towns are very warm and caring, inviting you into their houses and very curious. She goes into depth about social classes and the conservatism of growing up their in the 1960s. It reminds me of Minas de Oro, Tatumbla and Pespire. She also tells of the cultural clashes she faced when she left for Boston and the Priests who tried to bribe her to make her beloved return to Priesthood.
Like stated above, this isn’t the best book in the world, though it seems I’m not the only one to be captivated by this book. It was picked up by The New York Times and she was interviewed by quite a few Latino magazines when it was published. If you can look past the cover, you will find an interesting insight into Honduran rural culture. And you can find it on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1463328052?fp=1&pc_redir=T1