Picks and Pans Review: Tieta

updated 07/16/1979 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/16/1979 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Jorge Amado

In an audacious chapter heading, the author promises "unforgettable dialogue, perceptive psychological details, landscapes skillfully painted in a few brushstrokes, secrets and riddles, besides...doubt, mystery, vile treachery, sublime devotion, hope and love on every page." What's more, Amado delivers on his promise when Tieta returns to her tiny hometown of Agreste in Brazil after 26 years enriching herself as a madam in São Paulo. One of Amado's earlier novels, Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands, was made into both a movie and the current Broadway musical Saravá, but they are anemic compared to Amado's ripe prose. His men are weak and silly, but his women are sexy and positively steaming. This 672-page delight must be savored at great leisure. Take it on vacation. (Knopf, $12.95)

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