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Having lost her husband through divorce, and her daughter who has left home to go to university, Claire, at midlife, finds herself bereft; she is aging and she feels she has never really been sufficiently engaged in her own life. A perhaps largely-unconscious part of her has wisely chosen to put herself out of her comfort zone by accepting a teaching position in San Jose, Mexico, where she falls in love with Lolo, a Mexican man she both loves and fears, not only because he is an outrageously powerful life force but also a darkly threatening force that she feels could spell danger. At first, she is surrounded by eccentric expatriots and her encounters with these picaresque American and European misfits, as well as her growing awareness of Mexico’s haunting beauty and dire poverty, cause Claire to come face to face with her own prejudices. She must choose between being an active or passive character in her own life. Gradually, through her Mexican lover and his family and friends, she is drawn toward a deeper understanding of the country and the surreal quality of Mexican life awakens her to a new sense of passion and possibility.

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