At first Angelina, or Quiela (the Spanish name given to her by Diego), is confident that her lover will send for her. They share a ten-year union and the tragic memory of a child lost to a terrible fever. She continues to paint in his absence but cannot recapture the joys of creation that Diego’s presence made possible.
In a desperate attempt to bring his spirit back, she turns her letters into monologues that review their life together, the comradeship and poverty. Because Diego’s Mexican sensibility has, in a sense, replaced her Russian soul, she becomes almost crazed by loneliness and lost identity. She takes cold baths and long aimless walks. Nothing helps. Instead of losing him in the Paris crowds, she “recognizes” his face, with its warm smile, cresting the wave of faces pouring out of the Metro.
Diego finally sends money orders accompanied by impersonal messages that are more painful than was his silence. To add to her suffering, Diego asks Angelina to pass on money to another former mistress, a promiscuous woman who has earned Angelina’s disdain. Instead of succumbing to jealousy, Angelina throws herself into her painting and overcomes her despair through a rediscovery of her artistic independence and creative will.
The novel ends in a curious paradox of reconciliation. Although Diego never sends for her, and years later (we learn in a postscript) does not even recognize her at a concert in Mexico City, Angelina-Quiela...
(The entire section is 601 words.)