The action of the novel (its full title is Tieta, the Goat Girl: Or, The Return of the Prodigal Daughter, Melodramatic Serial Novel in Five Sensational Episodes, with a Touching Epilogue, Thrills and Suspense!) takes place largely in the fictitious northern Bahian backwater of Sant’Ana do Agreste, a tiny and politically insignificant community whose backwardness is exemplified by its reliance on a none-too-reliable generator as its sole source of electric power. At the opening of the story, Tieta’s sisters Perpétua and Elisa, accompanied by the ubiquitous Dona Carmosina, are worried because the monthly allowance generously sent to them by their wealthy sibling has for the first time failed to arrive on time. They depend on this largess not only for a few small luxuries but also for subsistence, and anxiety over the absent check provokes a relapse of Astério’s chronic gastritis and a succession of prayers from the young seminarian Ricardo. Reluctantly concluding the worst, the family holds a funeral for their beloved sister and prepare to hire a lawyer to ensure the proper disposal of whatever inheritance might be forthcoming, whereupon they receive a letter informing them that Tieta has been in mourning for her husband and will soon make her first visit to Agreste in twenty-six years.
The town is electrified by the news of the visit of the benefactress, and practically paralyzed when the gorgeous widow shows up not in black but in a sexy blouse and sexier jeans and in the company of the irresistible Leonora. Perpétua contrives to persuade her wealthy sister to adopt one or both of her sons, but the heroine’s interest in her nephews is anything but auntly, and she soon seduces Ricardo, an event which so delights the priest-to-be that it brings about a crisis of faith. Meanwhile, the benighted town clerk Ascânio, already madly in love with Leonora, is attempting to electrify the town in the literal sense, by having lines brought into town from a...
(The entire section is 807 words.)