Rayo, Sep 2003, 21.95, 239 pp.
Chicago based reporter Pilar Castillo returns to Venezuela for the funeral of her beloved grandmother Gabriela' Grenales. Attending the services is a male that no one recognizes. Pilar and her mother wonder who he is and how does he know the deceased.
Pilar inherits her grandmother's diaries divided into the themes of a South American proverb. To fully use your female power over men, a woman must act the lady in the living room, the gourmet chef in the kitchen, and the courtesan in the bedroom. Grandma encourages Pilar to listen to her heart as that will take you to the passion of life, something that Gabriela failed to heed when she obeyed her father, marrying the proper man and not her beloved.
Pilar is at a crossroads. She knows she must choose between her family's local preference and her American boyfriend. Will she do what her grandma says or what her grandma did?
THE LADY, THE CHEF, AND THE COURTESAN is a solid character study that looks deep into Venezuelan society as seen by two women of differing generations. However, there is gap between the qualities of the two story lines. Whereas Gabriela's story hooks the audience with its deep look at Venezuela in the 1940s and 1950s, Pilar's tale overbearingly explains modern Venezuelan life. Still the contrast and sameness engage the reader as Marisol furbishes an intriguing glimpse at Venezuela through two strong protagonists.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner