I was alone a handful of Saturdays ago. I wandered the streets of Madrid, staying close to the Chueca and Malasaña neighbourhoods, which are my favourite. I kept on getting lost and then recognising this little square, that mural, and…wait a second, what’s this? A narrow door leading to a ..bar? with a fading sign over it. “J&J Coffee and Books” it said, and there was a woman bathing in a cup of coffee, reading a book. On the sign, not for real.
I went in and immediately stopped in front of a shelf – used books for one or two euros. I chose two and then went to the cashier. Her face was frowning but she was ..sort of friendly, in her own way. When I was about to pay she looked at me and said: “You did see the books downstairs, right?” No, I obviously hadn’t. So down I went and back up I came, about forty minutes later, loaded with cheap, used, English books. I was enthusiastic to say the least.
One of the ones I read and preferred was the one in the title of this post. This is the kind of book I like: a good mix between an intriguing mystery (what happened to Olive? Will they find out?), family ties (who’s sleeping with whom), a place I haven’t been to (Louisiana), food (southern USA food is ever more inspiring), sex (there is a fair amount in the book which however does not become vulgar in the least), strong women and respected african americans. I loved it, and it was so much more than a holiday novel. I ordered another two by Mrs. West and can’t wait to read them!