Dear Diego is based on one chapter of Bertram Wolfe’s The Fabulous Life of Diego Rivera (1963). The novel is a fictionalized portrayal of Quiela (the Russian painter Angelina Beloff) as a broken-hearted lover waiting for the well-known painter Diego Rivera to send for her from Mexico City.
Dear Diego is divided into twelve love letters dated from October 19, 1921, through July 22, 1922—nine months in which Quiela, in spite of her desperation and longing for her lover, creates her own work as an illustrator for the Parisian magazine Floreal. By painting in nine months exactly, she affirms her identity through the art that Diego Rivera represents for her. The letters are followed by a brief narrative at the end of the book.
The book begins as Quiela is waiting for her lover. She expects him to send for her, but toward the end of the novel she realizes that he does not need her anymore. On one level, the narrative is about one woman in love with someone who does not want her; at the same time, it is about the aesthetic process of painting without the influence of her lover, a process that makes Quiela a newborn woman at the end.
The plot of the novel is fairly straightforward: Angelina Beloff (Quiela), a Russian painter in Paris, falls in love with the Mexican painter Diego Rivera. They live together for ten years. Diego Rivera goes back to Mexico in order to participate in the new beginning of...
(The entire section is 415 words.)