Frida by Barbara Mujica

Frida by Barbara Mujica

The novel Frida, by Barbara Mujica, tells the life story of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Like a biography, the book recounts the life of Kahlo’s stormy marriage to Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, her affairs with both men and women, and the illnesses and accident that left her pained and permanently disabled. However, unlike most biographies, this fictionalized tale is told through the memories of Cristi, Fridas younger sister.

A fictional narrative inspired by the colorful life of Frida Kahlo. A fine, fun ride. I picked this up at Pilsen Community Books in Chicago last year, devoured it for a few weeks, then dropped it for months. I decided to finish the final 50 or so pages I had left, finally, cos you know, your girl’s gotta reach her Goodreads Reading Challenge this year.

Anyway, this is told from the perspective of Frida’s sister Cristina (a sister she did have IRL, but who definitely never wrote a book about Frida). It follows Frida’s extreme ups and downs, her (perceived) contradictory nature—she’s a capital ‘C’ Communist sporting traditional Mexican dresses yet she lives in a villa surrounded by servants—and wild life with fellow artist Diego Rivera.

Some of the vignettes in this fictional narrative are described in such a way that I cannot imagine what being Frida would have been like. Not because they’re described badly, no; they’re described so well and with a personal passion that I am often shocked or horrified by the behavior of grown adults. The Frida painted within these pages has sharp wit, and even sharper pains—both physical and psychological. It’s a ride, that’s for sure.

If you do read this, I suggest watching the film (with Salma Hayek playing Frida) based on this novel for supplemental imagery. It really does bring the book to life.

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