The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina is a family saga that travels back and forth across space and time to paint a vivid picture of the family descended from defiant, enigmatic, independent Orquídea Divina and how they all cope with her unique legacy. You first meet Orquídea when she and her second husband move into their house – which may have appeared overnight, though surely that’s not possible. The people in town are suspicious, but nothing can ever be proven and the sheriff is charmed, so Orquídea and her family are here to stay. We next see her years later as she prepares to die, and we are introduced to her heirs, variously troubled and estranged from her home. This includes accountant Rey, his cousin Marimar, and pregnant Tatinelly. They’ll all have to grapple with legacy, family, and magic if they want to make their peace with Orquídea and claim their inheritance. Meanwhile, flashbacks tell the story of how Orquídea grew up and came into her power, giving hints to the gifts, lessons, and dangers that her heirs have come to claim.
Magical realism is a major part of this book; while Marimar, Rey, and Tatinelly live in communities where magic isn’t real, their return to their grandmother’s home of Four Rivers immediately shows that magic is real and has consequences. As a reader this hooked me immediately, but magic also was an effective metaphor for cultural and community knowledge: Tatinelly’s white husband is afraid at the evidence of magic, while for Tatinelly it’s a joyful return to what’s familiar. The subtle knowledge of women is also a strong theme as first Orquídea, then Marimar, Tatinelly, and the other female descendants show intuitive connections to nature, the house at Four Rivers, and the languages spoken (and feelings expressed) by different locations.
Engaging and rich with details, this is recommended for fans of Encanto, Knives Out, and the Umbrella Academy.
Guest post by Laura
Salma Hayek plays the lead in this thought-provoking “comedy.” Although I laughed at times throughout the film, it would be more accurate to categorize Beatriz at Dinner as a drama. Hayek is finally given a break from the stereotypical sexy Latina spitfire role in which she in normally cast. She doesn’t disappoint in her portrayal of a spiritual, non-materialistic healer with a strong desire for fairness and justice. Although this character could easily have been a blonde hippie, Beatriz’s backstory as an immigrant from Mexico deepens the storyline.
The movie takes place in the grand Southern California home overlooking the ocean of one of her massage clients. Her car breaks down and her client, who also considers Beatriz a friend, convinces her husband to let her stay for his dinner with his business partners. The evening enfolds with much drama spurred on by far too much liquor and the uncomfortable pairing of people from opposite ends of the socio-political and economic spectrum in this country. Jon Lithgow matches Hayek in his performance as a Trump-era capitalist and verbal sparring ensues.
The ending has become a Google search phrase, as evidenced by my starting to type it and it popped up. I was satisfied with the movie until the end, which disappointed me at first. I read an interview with the director, Miguel Arteta, who explained, “we have gotten really used to having our ending be predigested for us.” He goes on to say he wanted an open-ended conclusion to make people start thinking for themselves. After reading the interview, I have created my own justification for the end in my mind. It worked! He got me to think for myself and not accept a neat and tidy ending fed to me by Hollywood.
Like a complex novel that merits re-reading, I might have to view Beatriz at Dinner again to dissect all of the layers and nuances. While it’s not a movie to invite your friends to watch for a lighthearted good time, it is worth watching as a Latino director and a Latina actress’ take on our current political climate.
Cinco de Mayo is only the beginning! The entire month of May has been designated as Latino Books Month by the Association of American Publishers. Simply put, it’s an effort to encourage people to read books by and for Latinos. What’s great is that you can choose to read many titles in either English or Spanish.
If you read Spanish, you’ll be able to check out some books that, in English, never seem to be on the shelf! For example, Luna Nueva by Stephanie Meyer.
If you prefer Latino authors, try Carlos Ruiz Zafon and his El Juego del Angel or Para Salvar el Mundo by Julia Alvarez. Can’t read Spanish? No problem, we have the English versions of those titles as well. Hint: Look for The Angel’s Game and Saving the World.
Also, in the children’s section, we feature many bi-lingual editions as well as clever videos. Did you know that exposing children to another language at a young age can really help their fluency in later years? Why not give it a try?