The Secret Book of Frida Kahlo by F. G. Haghenbeck
A Novel

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Synopsis

One of Mexico’s most celebrated new novelists, F. G. Haghenbeck offers a beautifully written reimagining of Frida Kahlo’s fascinating life and loves.

More than half a century after her death, Frida Kahlo continues to inspire a devoted following. Her paintings command more money than any other female artist, and her work was the first by a Mexican artist to be purchased by the Louvre. Now her fascinating life is the basis for a brilliant novel in Frida Kahlo’s Secret Book.

     Acclaimed Mexican novelist F. G. Haghenbeck was inspired to write this book after a series of notebooks and sketchbooks were recently discovered among Frida’s belongings in Casa Azul, her home in CoyoacÁn, MÉxico City. Although her family never confirmed their authenticity, Haghenbeck imagines that one of the notebooks was a gift from her lover Tina Modotti after Frida nearly died. Frida called the notebook “El Libro de Hierba Santa” (“The Sacred Herbs Book”) and filled it with memories, ideas, and recipes for The Day of the Dead, the Mexican holiday that commemorates deceased friends and family through the cooking of a delicious feast of exotic dishes.

     In a rich, luscious style bordering on magical realism, Haghenbeck takes readers on an intriguing ride through Frida’s life, including her long and tumultuous relationship with her lover Diego Rivera, the development of her artistic vision, her complex personality, her lust for life, and her existential feminism. The book also includes stories about the remarkable people who were a part of her life, including Georgia O'Keeffe (with whom she had an affair), Trotsky, Nelson Rockefeller, Hemingway, Dos Passos, Henry Miller, and DalÍ.

 

About F. G. Haghenbeck

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F. G. Haghenbeck, a native of Mexico, is an award-winning novelist and screenwriter. His novel Frida Kahlo’s Secret Book has been translated into ten languages. He lives in Tehuacán, Mexico.
 
Published September 25, 2012 by Atria Books. 370 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Secret Book of Frida Kahlo

Kirkus Reviews

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Her ruminations on the meaning of life and death with various famous lovers, from Georgia O’Keeffe to Leon Trotsky, are full of gravitas but tend to run together after awhile, not unlike the recipes themselves.

Sep 01 2012 | Read Full Review of The Secret Book of Frida Kahl...

Washington Independent Review of Books

The rooster refers to her as a little deer that “wanted to go running through a forest full of owls and radishes … she wanted to be free again, but the arrows had hit their mark and felled her.” Recipe by recipe, painting by painting, combined with historical accounts and insights gleaned from th...

Oct 22 2012 | Read Full Review of The Secret Book of Frida Kahl...

Historical Novel Society

Haghenbeck embraces her often outlandish and spirited personality in The Secret Book of Frida Kahlo, a novel from Frida’s point of view told in an anecdotal diary format, based on the discovery of notebooks at her home in Mexico.

| Read Full Review of The Secret Book of Frida Kahl...

Tulsa World

"The Secret Book of Frida Kahlo" doesn't offer any stirring revelations into Kahlo's already mythic life, but it is still a delicious read as Haghenbeck weaves stories of her relationships with artists like Georgia O'Keeffe and Pablo Picasso with recipes for the foods that sweetened their encount...

Oct 07 2012 | Read Full Review of The Secret Book of Frida Kahl...

Publishers Weekly

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Real-life textual artifacts recently discovered at Frida Kahlo's former home in Mexico City serve as the inspiration for Mexican author Haghenbeck's (Bitter Drink) fictionalized rendering of the late artist's life, though this surprisingly light read adds little to Kahlo's already remarkable biog...

Sep 24 2012 | Read Full Review of The Secret Book of Frida Kahl...

Lehigh Valley Live

She felt free.” “The Secret Book of Frida Kahlo” doesn't offer any stirring revelations into Kahlo's already mythic life, but it is still a delicious read as Haghenbeck weaves stories of her relationships with artists like Georgia O'Keeffe and Pablo Picasso with recipes for the foods that sweet...

Oct 08 2012 | Read Full Review of The Secret Book of Frida Kahl...

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