The Painter of Birds by Lidia Jorge

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The story of a daughter's longing for her absent father and her determination to piece together the past and the future

The setting of this extraordinary novel is an old farmhouse in Portugal-a house far enough from the Atlantic not to hear the breaking waves during a storm but near enough for the walls to be corroded by the salt in the air.

With most members of her large family having left the hardship of life in this landscape of sand and stone for jobs in faraway places, a young woman struggles to piece together her past from the widely varying stories she's been told. Left behind by a free-spirited, feckless father, a seducer with a rare gift for drawing, she is raised by her uncle who has married her mother. The only memories of her father's two brief visits are the echoes of his footsteps on the stairs leading to her room. The only signs of him are letters from the widest reaches of the world-letters accompanied by brilliantly colored drawings of exotic birds. The daughter longs for her father and, as she grows up, she is determined to find him and uncover the truth.

Brimming with astute and exquisite characterizations, this strikingly lyrical novel evokes the atmosphere of rural Portugal in a changing world and explores the timeless themes of family, independence, and the often painful experience of emigration.


About Lidia Jorge

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L'dia Jorge was born in 1946 in the Algarve region of Portugal. She studied French literature and then taught in Angola and Mozambique during the colonial wars. She has written eight novels and one collection of short stories. Along with José Saramago, she was awarded the City of Lisbon Prize for her second novel.
Published March 20, 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 240 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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A lyrical memory novel—the eighth by a Portuguese writer who recently shared a literary prize with Nobel laureate José Saramago—consists of its unnamed narrator’s fragmented remembrance of, and speculations about, her vagrant father.

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