Hunger's Brides


Despite its massive weight (4.5 pounds) and girth (1,358 pages), Paul Anderson’s ambitious novel Hunger’s Brides deserves more than doorstop status. The life of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, the great 17th-century Mexican poet, intellectual, and nun — whose work has been championed by Octavio Paz, among others — is told by de la Cruz as well as her assistant; the priest who detested her; her would-be lover; and a modern Canadian professor and his female grad student, whose obsession with the poet frames the story. Despite a compelling tale and limpidly beautiful prose, Brides could easily have lost hundreds of pages from its unwieldy bulk.