Monday, March 23, 2009

88 (2009 #13). Baby Jesus Pawn Shop

by Lucia Orth

Set in the Philippines around 1982, during the years of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, this debut novel contrasts the life of poverty of typical Filipinos with that of their wealthy countrymen and of the American diplomats who aide in propping up Marcos in order to maintain US military bases on the islands.

American Rue Caldwell is different from most diplomat's wives, with a job in a local science nonprofit. She is attracted to her husband's driver, Doming Aquinaldo, who is struggling with his own desires for revenge for his labor organizer's father's death at the hands of Marcos cronies.

Author Lucia Orth, who like Rue spent five years with a nonprofit in Manila, does an outstanding job evoking the Philippine setting so that the reader feels s/he is there. The characters, plot, and book title are intriguing.

The only problem I had with the book was its (hardbound edition) cover. I received this book as part of the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program. The pair of eyes and dagger on the blood red cover, with this title, would not have compelled me to pick up the book in a library or book store - and that would have been my loss.

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