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DONA FLOR AND HER TWO HUSBANDS by Jorge Amado, translated from the Portuguese by Harriet de Onis (Avon Books: $7.95)

May 29, 1988|ELENA BRUNET

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.

Jorge Amado has fashioned a wonderfully comic, bawdy tale set in the Bahia section of Brazil, "where . . . acts of magic occur without startling anybody."

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