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It's Just Lola Paperback – August 3, 2012
The Amazon Book Review
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About the Author
THE AUTHOR: Dixiane Hallaj lives in the small town of Purcellville, Virginia, with her husband of fifty years and their cat named “Dog.” Her first two novels were inspired by the wonderful people she grew to love and respect during the eleven years she spent in Palestine and Jordan. Lola inspired this one, which she hopes will encourage women everywhere to be strong and keep reaching for their goals.
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Hallaj writes, very-broadly speaking, women’s literature, in that central female figures and through them family, are her bread and butter. That shouldn’t deter any but the most misogynistic of male readers. There is plenty of the gritty content and adventure to balance the childcare and dressmaking. This is a lot on female, and male, sensitivities, but certainly very little sentimental. Lola had as psychologically tough a life as most male heroes, and survived an extraordinarily mixed bunch of husbands and other male figures. I may have lost count, but she had certainly buried at least two husbands and saw off another by the time she was thirty. Well, to be accurate, the exes were never conventionally buried.
Hallaj has preserved for history a very informative piece of family/social history. She literally saved important social history from a death bed. This is the history of a very ordinary daughter of gentry, turned extraordinary by the turmoil that swirled through and around her life. Lola saw plenty of the poverties and hardships as well as at least spells of grandeur living. We learn a very great deal about the life experiences of people in Latin America and further afield, between the end of the 19th century and the start of the Great Depression. We leave Lola’s life when she was still hardly middle-aged, by which time she had as much life experience as a half dozen others might achieve in half a dozen centuries. Hallaj has blended biography and real life fiction to create a wonderful memory of her grandmother from her mother’s own words.
The writing is of a very high quality, the script is captivating, and we learn as much about Lola’s times as we would from the very best of historical documentary. What is more, Hallaj seems to be able to paint incredibly detailed pictures without ever seeming to use more than the fewest of words to do so.
The story is set, for the most part in Peru, in the early 1900s and filled with historical and societal facts that I found fascinating.
Lola, the baby of the family grew up in luxury – until, in her naiveté and ignorance, found herself in a family way by a hired hand. So did her next oldest sister, and by the same man, who had promised to seek their hand in marriage from their Papa.
This story tells how they not only coped with being disowned and sent away by their father, but actually grew and thrived because of it. Lola eventually married, and had another child, and her father "re-owned" her and her two children.
I don't want to give the story away, but know there is a lot of sadness in Lola's life and heart, and a great deal of happiness. This is the story of Lola, her coming of age, and not just her survival, but also the reaching for, grabbing, and holding on to her dreams. She is a strong and educated woman who doesn't take guff from anyone!
This is a powerful story of love – love of family, love of self, love for others, but it is not what I would call a romance. Lola does not need, nor seek, to be rescued.
Do I recommend this story? Oh, absotively posolutely! Although it is probably considered "women's lit" I think even men will enjoy it. And it might bring forth some good discussion if read by the younger set.
Now, Ms. Hallaj, please write the story of Enriequetta, Concha, and Katie.
Knowing this is based on a real person makes the story that much more touching. The book would have benefited from a more active tension between the characters and less "telling." That said, I still recommend this book to readers for a good portrayal of life in a time and setting we know very little about.