Edmisten Authors The Mourning of Angels

as well as a much-needed perspective on the savagery of that act.

The Mourning of Angels captures the innocence of 1962 and 1963, before the Kennedy assassination, when many of us, swept up in the idealism of such a venture, joined the Peace Corps and journeyed to countries we'd never heard of, and when young women seized the opportunity for a kind of adventure that until then had almost solely been the purview of men.

Lydia Schaefer, Edmisten's 23-year-old protagonist from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, could well have been a travel companion to the five Peace Corps women who, in Geraldine Kennedy's Harmattan, crossed the Sahara Desert in the early 60s. Instead Lydia's assignment is Peru.

She is a tough, principled, sometimes provocative, but always emotionally receptive young woman, determined to do her job as a health care worker, first in Arequipa, and later in the coastal town of Ica.

In straight forward, beautifully descriptive prose, subtly impregnated with the political and cultural history of Peru, Edmisten charts Lydia Schaefer's journey from innocence -- she is a Catholic girl, still a virgin, the product of a protective, loving home -- to a stark, tragic maturity. Lydia describes her view beyond her barriada in Arequipa.
Gray and white dominate the landscape. No road is paved. There are no trees. Nothing green. No spring flowers interfere with the dreariness. Looking up, however, there is visual relief.

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by Patricia S. Taylor Edmisten
(Peru 1962-64)
Xlibris, $19.54; 309 pages
October, 2001
Reviewed by Marnie Mueller
(Ecuador 1963-65)

I read Patricia Edmisten's dramatic and sensuous debut novel,
The Mourning of Angels, in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Her marvelous evocation of the first days of the Peace Corps provided an escape from the sadness of New York City, where I live,

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