Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sisters of Perpetual Disorder

Isabel tells me that on Sunday (Easter) her tribe gathered for the first pool party of the year. They had brunch and then went to see the movie Water For Elephants, based on the best-selling novel by Sara Gruen. It's the story of a young veterinary student who joins the circus in the thirties, during the Depression. He falls in love with the wife of the owner of the circus, played by the great Austrian actor Christoph Waltz, who portrays a perfect psychopath villain. But the real star of the movie, of course, is Rosie the elephant. 

More news from Isabel:
Dear Sarah,

On Friday, April 22, I hosted a conversation with Jean Shinoda Bolen at Book Passage, my favorite bookstore, located here in Marin County. A psychiatrist, Jungian analyst, and spiritual teacher, Jean just published Like a Tree, which is her tenth book. We have been friends for nineteen years and are both members of a small circle of women that we call "Sisters of Perpetual Disorder." It was a lovely evening, with elegant round tables, Chilean wine (Veramonte; you can get it a Cost Plus) and food from Insalata. People commented that Jean and I should go on the road as stand-up comediennes. Maybe…but we would have to stand on fat telephone books because we are both rather short in stature!

Next Wednesday, April 27, Judge Baltasar Garzón of Spain is coming for dinner. Garzón is a criminal lawyer and judge who gained worldwide notoriety in October 1998 when he issued an international warrant for the arrest of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.  Since then he has been involved in several cases regarding high profile criminals and human rights abuses, but when he tried to uncover and publicize the crimes of the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, he was attacked by the extreme right in his country and lost his job. Apparently, for some people, it's acceptable to prosecute foreign criminals but not their own. (We will have catering by Visconti and, of course, wine by the famous Chilean winemaker, Agustin Huneeus, who makes award-winning wine in Chile and Napa Valley).


With so much going on, I wrote back to ask her if she was doing much reading these days. (She is on sabbatical, after all.) But it sounds like I don’t need to worry; there are still a million books on her bedroom side table. So of course I asked her for a few recommendations.

Her response:

I finished reading Ann Patchett's new novel, State of Wonder, and enjoyed it very much. She is the author of several books; probably the best known is Bel Canto, which you HAVE to read. This new novel is a very entertaining adventure about a group of scientists in search of a miraculous drug in the Amazon.

I also read A Widow's Story: A Memoir, by Joyce Carol Oates, one of the most prolific writers I know (the other one being Mario Vargas Llosa).  She wrote A Widow's Story: A Memoir, which is a no-nonsense, sharp memoir, after the loss of her lifelong husband. She didn't remain alone for long, however; she recently married a scientist. Joyce has written more than fifty books and I have to wonder how she found time to date!!

Fifty books! Chop chop, Isabel, you better get cracking!

On a related note, here is a preview of the new Isabel Allende website, where we will attempt to showcase many of her international first edition book covers. Isabel has only written eighteen books but they have been translated into thirty-five languages. So that’s a lot of covers for us to show off. I can’t wait!

Sneak peek: Some of the many covers of The House of the Spirits.

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