any closely ranked crowd of people
When their squabbles reach a certain mother-annoying level, they are called away by their nursemaids, who sit on stools at the far end of the patio, a
phalanx of starched white uniforms.
someone who attempts to convert others to a doctrine
Before anyone has turned to greet her in the entryway, Yolanda sees herself as they will, shabby in a black cotton skirt and jersey top, sandals on her feet, her wild black hair held back with a hairband. Like a
missionary, her cousins will say, like one of those Peace Corps girls who have let themselves go so as to do dubious good in the world.
open to doubt or suspicion
Before anyone has turned to greet her in the entryway, Yolanda sees herself as they will, shabby in a black cotton skirt and jersey top, sandals on her feet, her wild black hair held back with a hairband. Like a missionary, her cousins will say, like one of those Peace Corps girls who have let themselves go so as to do
dubious good in the world.
make less severe or harsh
"You look terrible," Lucinda says. "Too thin, and the hair needs a cut. Nothing personal." She is the cousin who has never
minced her words.
a district in a Spanish-speaking country
Suddenly the car jerks forward and dies, right there on the street. I'm alarmed, you know, the way things are, a big car stalled in the middle of the university
an exact copy or reproduction
She addresses a woman whose aging face is less familiar to Yolanda than the child's
a witty saying
"Older, not wiser." Carmencita's
quip in English is the product of her two or three years away in boarding school in the States.
latticework used to support climbing plants
The late sun sifts through the bougainvillea trained to climb the walls of the patio, to thread across the
trellis roof, to pour down magenta and purple blossoms.
a wild and exciting undertaking
Back in their adolescent days during summer visits, the four girls used to shock their Island cousins with stories of their
escapades in the States.
give a point to
Her fingers are long and
tapered; her wedding and engagement rings have been welded together into one thick band.
put up with something or somebody unpleasant
"There have been some incidents lately," Tía Carmen says in a quiet voice that does not
relinquish possession or control over
Small arguments erupt over dividing the cake's cities: Lucinda's two boys both want Santiago since they went gliding there last weekend; Lucinda's girl and Carmencita's girl both insist on the capital because that's where they were born, but one agrees to
cede the capital if she can have La Romana, where the family has a beach house.
a current that flows away from the shore after waves break
When she first hears it, she thinks it is her own motor she has forgotten to turn off, but the sound grows into a pained roar, as if the engine were falling apart. Yolanda makes out an
undertow of men's voices.
a porch along the outside of a building
Beyond him up the shady driveway is a three-story country house, a wide
verandah all the way around it.
shaped into alternating parallel grooves and ridges
A small village spreads out before her—ALTAMIRA, say the rippling letters on the
corrugated tin roof of the first house.
enjoy to excess
A creamy, blond woman
luxuriates under a refreshing shower, her head thrown back in seeming ecstasy, her mouth opened in a wordless cry.
providing no shelter or sustenance
They turn onto a bumpy road off the highway, which grows bumpier and bumpier as it climbs up into wilder, more
Finally, with a great snapping of twigs and thrashing of branches across the windshield, as if the countryside is
loath to release them, the car bursts forth onto smooth pavement and the light of day.
cause to be more favorably inclined; gain the good will of
She hurries José back to the car, where they find a heap of guavas the other boys left behind on the shoulder of the road. Enough guavas to
appease even the greediest Island santo for life!
The two men exchange a look—it seems to Yolanda—of
cause to become
The two men stare at her, uncomprehending,
rendered docile by her gibberish.
willing to be taught or led or supervised or directed
The two men stare at her, uncomprehending, rendered
docile by her gibberish.
a package of several things tied together
She rummages in her purse and draws out a
sheaf of bills, rolls them up and offers them to the men.
a large knife used as a weapon or for cutting vegetation
The two men pick up their
machetes and raise them to their shoulders like soldiers their guns.
independent in behavior or thought
He had always had problems with his
maverick youngest, and her running off hadn't helped.
hesitant or lacking confidence; unsettled in mind or opinion
It gave solace to the third daughter, who was always so
tentative and terrified and had such troubles with men.
cause to be more favorably inclined
Usually, in her growing-up tantrums, this daughter would storm out of the house and come back hours later,
placated, the sweetness in her nature reasserted, bearing silly gifts for everyone in the family, refrigerator magnets, little stuffed hairballs with roll-around eyeballs.
give in, as to influence or pressure
Last minute, the father
relented and went along, but he might as well have stayed away.
a brilliant and notable success
It was a
coup for the youngest daughter to have gathered the scattered family in the Midwest for a weekend. But the real
coup was how Sofía had managed to have the husbands included this year.
a sign posted in a public place
The band arrived, three middle-aged men, each with a silver wave slicked back with too much hair cream. DANNY AND HIS BOYS set up a
placard with their name against the fireplace.
a rattle-like instrument that is shaken to make noise
There was one on an accordion, another on a fiddle, and a third was miscellaneous on
maracas and triangle and drums when needed.
piece of furniture that stands at the side of a dining room
There was a big chocolate cake in the shape of a heart set out on the long
buffet with seventy-one candles—one for good luck.
provide a service or favor for someone
They'd been playing party games on and off all night. The band
obliged with musical chairs, but after two of the dining room chairs were broken, they left off playing.
Surrounded by his daughters and their husbands and fancy, intelligent, high-talking friends, he seemed to be realizing that he was just an old man sitting in their houses, eating up their roast lamb,
impinging upon their lives.
affectedly shy especially in a playful or provocative way
There she sat, pretty and slim as a girl, smiling
coyly at everyone when a song was dedicated to her.