In The Lost Book of Mala R., Rose MacDowell introduces Mala, a gypsy girl in Texas in the 1940s, who is kicked out of her clan for causing disaster. She was like a bad luck charm to her people, and they wanted her gone. She hitchhikes to California to find the woman who had helped raise her for a short time, who had provided her with enough education that she could write a journal. She fills her journal with spells, recipes, predictions, and a jumble of thoughts.
Half a century later, the journal shows up in a yard sale and finds its way into the lives of three suburban wives, all struggling with identity and marriage. Linda must face a summer with her 10-year-old spoiled step-daughter; Christine, after struggling with years of infertility, finds out she is pregnant at the same time her husband is suspected of murder; and Audrey, whose husband has become a health-nut, falls into an affair that gives her life new meaning. Mala's journal speaks to each woman in a different way, and they all try a spell to solve a problem in their lives.
Woven in with the present-day story of the three women is Mala's own story, which I really loved. I wasn't quite as involved in the stories of the three suburbanites, as their characters weren't as developed, but Mala's story was fabulous. I wanted much more of her story! But the three modern-day women did have intriguing stories, and I read eagerly each night for the resolution of each.
I really enjoyed this book, although now that I think about it, the Mala story didn't really add to the stories of the three ladies, nor did their story really heighten her story. I'm not sure either needed the other; they were only marginally intertwined. That said, I'm not bothered that the two fed off each other somewhat. I was completely engrossed in the book, wondering what would happen with all the stories. MacDowell is a wonderful writer, lyrical and detailed, with memorable scenes.
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