Traces of Bliss
by Cecilia Velasegui
reviewed by Jenifer Kimble
"...the ancestral memories theory postulates that our DNA is encoded with specific memories from the experiences of our ancestors. I would say that Mrs. Hemieh has just demonstrated the extent of the details that one can unintentionally remember going back many, many generations."
In an affluent suburb of Los Angeles, several wealthy seniors inadvertently begin experiencing the tragic memories of their ancestors, following aromatherapy massage sessions with their trusted massage therapist. Mostly discarded by their blood relatives, or with none remaining at all, the seniors rely solely upon their trusted caregivers, each of whom are also full of unhappiness and despair searching for fulfillment and worth at the hands of their senior employers. Their lives are sent into upheaval as the self-appointed homeopathic Dr. Ruiz, a pathological liar, seeks to capitalize on their unhealthy desires for memory retrieval and re-enactment by fleecing them of their collected riches for a moment of unbridled remembrance and bliss.
The author cleverly weaves historical persecution of various races and religions into a modern day twisting tale of deception and predation of the elderly. Introducing a sordid cast or characters, each filled with tragedy and darkness and unable to either recognize or control the "duende" or spirit inhabiting them, they are forced to come face-to-face with the realities of their lives while deciding their roles in this novel of tragedy. Proving that the righteous are rewarded while the wretched receive their due as well, the author continues the unpredictable plot to the bitter end. The reader is taken on a true journey across not only time but landscape as well, as they delve past historical fiction and into a boundless exploration of love, love lost, and the stakes associated with reclamation.
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