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Written in the form of a diary, Costalegre follows an adolescent girl as she, her mother, and a motley crew of ‘degenerate’ artists take refuge from Europe at the onset of World War II. The book is set on an isolated coast of Mexico where the jealous artists and writers are determined to work – though they mostly argue amongst themselves. One needn’t know much about the real Peggy Guggenheim, her daughter Pegeen, or the artists the characters are based on in order to love this story (although an interest in the time period and surrealist painting may deepen the reading experience).

The novel is, at its base, a coming of age story. It is about the frustrations of being young among adults and striving to be older -or at least seen as such- and understood. The diary form allows the voice of the central character, an intelligent fifteen-year-old named Lara to express herself intimately. Her desires, her aspirations, her fears, and her annoyances written in this way make the 1930s character accessible to a modern reader. We may not understand the unique experiences of the talented daughter of an eccentric art collector raised between Europe and America, but we all know the familiar aches of growing up.

Reviewed By:

Author Courtney Maum
Star Count /5
Format Hard
Page Count 240 pages
Publisher Tin House Books
Publish Date 2019-07-16
ISBN 9781947793361 Buy this Book
Issue December 2019
Category Popular Fiction


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