Though set in Los Angeles from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s, the narrative reinscribes Anton Chekhov’s short story, “The Darling,” first published in 1899. Like Chekhov’s protagonist, Caridad engages in various relationships in her search for love and fulfillment. Rather than absorbing beliefs held by the men in her life, as does Chekhov’s heroine, Caridad instead draws on her lovers’ resources in attempting to improve and educate herself. Apart from Chekhov, various authors of classic literature further guide Caridad’s quest to find herself and to find love, inspiring her longing for love, while also enabling her to disentangle herself from unsatisfying to disastrous relationships by encouraging her to strive for an ideal.
In a moment of clarity, Caridad compares herself to a trapeze artist near the top of a striped tent as she flies from one man to the next, expecting to be caught and held until she is ready to leap again. Flying, she wonders—or is she falling?
“Invoking the worlds of Chekhov, Flaubert, Tolstoy, and other literary greats, Lorraine M. López’s exquisite new novel The Darlingregales us with the story of Caridad, an unlucky-in-love bibliophile who frequently accesses the books on her shelves in order to find perspective on her rocky journey back to emotional stability. López shapes an endearing and enduring portrait of contemporary womanhood—intelligent, resourceful, yet still vulnerable to the unforeseeable aches of the heart. This is a formidable book about the troubles and triumphs of a reader.”—Rigoberto González, author of Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa
“Many novels end with a wedding, but witty, imaginative, and above all, funny, The Darlingstarts with one. Caridad, the main character, has a penchant for falling in love with the wrong men. With Anna Karenina, Madame Bovary, Sister Carrie, and Lady Chatterley hovering over her like kindred souls, Caridad struggles to find out who she really is. Award-winning author Lorraine M. López deftly weaves together her heroine’s personal quest and the female characters she is fascinated with to tell an enthralling story about sex, love, and literature in the compelling package of a well-written book.”—Teresa Dovalpage, author of A Girl Like Che Guevara and Habanera: A Portrait of a Cuban Family
“Lorraine López’s The Darlingis a novel of great expectations and grand disappointments. It follows the fallible life of Caridad, a twenty-something Latina growing older and having to face the consequences of bad decisions. She is also a bibliophile who cherishes novels titled after women’s names like Moll Flanders, Lolita, and Justine. These heroines help guide her through some tumultuous and tragic, humorous and surprising love affairs and marriages. As the novel progresses and Caridad becomes thirty-something, she has to face yet another chapter of her life, but this time doing so with an enlarged sense of maturity and grace. With an intense gaze into Caridad’s life, López succeeds in capturing the interiority of a woman torn apart and then put back together again. Thanks to López’s talents, we simply can’t help but see parts of our lives in Caridad’s story.”—Helena Maria Viramontes, author of Their Dogs Came with Them: A Novel
“In this fresh update of Chekhov’s ‘The Darling,’ Caridad, unlike Olenka, is steadfast in her ambition while it’s the husbands who must change or be discarded. Wittily challenging to the literary models that guide Caridad’s life, the novel gives us a new American heroine, one who is intelligent and sexy, ambitious and generous—in short, a complex woman whose intellect develops while she marries, has a child, works, and discovers her professional possibilities. All along Caridad’s tumultuous and at times hilarious journey, López explodes stereotypes while claiming space on the shelf of high literary art.”—Lynn Pruett, author ofRuby River
“Who would take his best friend on his honeymoon?? Mr. Wrong, that’s who, and so opens the compelling story of Caridad. Her journey through life is both heartbreaking and inspiring, and at times laugh-out-loud funny. Like the notes she keeps in the margins of her books—Chekov, Shakespeare—we get so involved with the twists and turns of her life that we want to shout out our feelings. In Caridad, López has created a complex and intelligent character destined to become a classic figure in American literature. This novel is beautiful and necessary. The Darling is a Portrait of the Artist-Scholar as a Young Latina.”—Daniel Chacón, author of Hotel Juarez: Stories, Rooms and Loops.
“A clever and timely novel that adds another much needed perspective about the Latino experience in higher education, while also participating in a larger conversation with the canon.”—Afro-Hispanic Review