The House in the Clouds. By Gloria Durán. Edited by José Hernández and Yasmeen Namazie. ISBN 978-1888205435. $16.95.
THE HOUSE IN THE CLOUDS (Mixtlicalli in Nahuatl) is a cocktail of adventure, romance, mystery, humor, ghost story and family saga . . . The heroine and narrator is Simone Sandoval, thirty-two, witty, brave and a successful Florida businesswoman, but unlucky in love. Her problem, she thinks, is the shape of her nose. Simone travels to Mexico to have it repaired at a famous sanitarium and carries with her, as a model, the portrait of her beautiful great-grandmother, Simone Dupont, rumored to have been a sorceress. But her official reason for the trip is to locate the old family hacienda, Mixtlicalli, partially destroyed during the Mexican Revolution.
At the sanitarium Simone meets an ancient daughter of her ancestor and learns that Simone Dupont was not abducted by General Zapata as the family has maintained, but went off with him willingly. The manager of the sanitarium, Federico, with whom she falls in love, turns out to be the woman’s other great grandchild. Another discovery is that Mixtlicalli, now reconstructed, serves as a New Age retreat specializing in rejuvenation. It is run by her own great-grandfather, Luis Sandoval, now 109 years old and kept young by his Indian lover, a witch doctor. Luis, who attempts to rape his great-granddaughter, insists that she is his dead wife to escape from the memory that he has murdered her. But Simone Dupont survives as the ghost of Mixtlicalli.
“There is so much here to love. Gloria is a talented writer. . . I adore her droll sensibility as well as her skilled combination of fairy tale, chick-lit and magical realism ( did I leave anything out”?) Sulay Hernandez, Touchstone publishers (Simon and Schuster).
“I was genuinely engaged with (her) clear writing style, (her) rambunctious heroine and the intriguing historical mystery.” Sherwin Nuland, surgeon, author of How we Die, The Wisdom of the Body, The Art of Aging, Lost in America, etc.
Gloria Durán’s three earlier novels have received wide acclaim. Malinche, “Slave Princess of Cortez,” won first prize in 1996 from the National League of American Pen Women. “Maria de Estrada, Gypsy Conquistadora,”published in both English and Spanish won another first prize given by the Latino Book Summit in 2000 -- which honored her with a Latino Literary Hall of Fame award. Her “Catalina, mi padre,” published by Planeta in Mexico has received enthusiastsic reviews and will be republished shortly in English by Floricanto Press. She has won numerous prizes for short stories and has published two books of literary criticism and over twenty articles in literary journals. Durán has also received many other awards and honors. In l987 she was made an honorary Puerto Rican in order to deliver a paper at the plenary session of the International Pen Congress in San Juan. Her work has been published in Spain, Holland, and Great Britain as well as in Mexico and the U.S