Dona Flor's first husband, Vadinho, was a rogue and a rake; he dies a young man on a Sunday of Carnaval, "dressed up like a Bahian woman . . . dancing the samba," after a decade of hard living. Three years after his death, Dona Flor marries Dr. Teodoro Madureira, a pharmacist "of serene bearing and respectful manners." He treats his new wife "as a sensitive flower, compounded of chastity and innocence, worthy of the greatest respect."
But Flor, though a model wife, finds the meetings of the Pharmaceutical Assn. a bit dull. She longs instead for the man who knew how to unleash her "violent and positively unbounded" passion, and her very longing and desire (with a little help from the divine Exu) bring Vadinho back from the dead and into her life.