María Isidra is a proper Catholic girl raised in 1960s Spain by a strong matriarch during a repressive dictatorship. Early sexual trauma and a hefty dose of fear keep her in line for much of her childhood, but also lead her to live a double life. In her home, there is no discussing the needs of her growing body. In the street, kissing in public is forbidden.
Upon the dictator’s death in 1975, Spain bursts wide open, giving way to democracy and a cultural revolution. Barcelona’s vibrant downtown and its new freedoms seduce María Isidra. She dives into a world of activism, communal living, literature, counterculture, open sexuality, and alcohol.
And yet she knows something is missing. Longing to reconnect with her body—from which she has felt estranged since childhood—she finds a surprising home in a rundown salsa club, where the lush rhythm sparks a deep wave of healing. Transformed, she sets off on a series of sexual and romantic misadventures, in search for what she has always found painfully elusive: true intimacy.
Promenade of Desire is a rich journey into the life of a woman once contained, who finds a way to set herself free.
“What Isidra Mencos offers up, in Promenade of Desire, is a brave and unblinkingly honest portrait of a young woman’s sensual and sexual awakening in the face of censure and repression, and her refusal to be held back by the constraints of her family, culture and religion. The same joyful spirit that expresses itself in Mencos’ love of dancing shines through in her story of her own personal dance into a brave new world beyond the one her mother prescribed for her. Her story is shameless, in the very best sense of the word. ”
“Promenade of Desire is many things at once: a page-turning coming-of-age tale, a gutsy examination of family, a vivid portrait of a vanished time and a place, and a profound meditation on the nature of desire. Mencos is a sure-handed, open-hearted storyteller whose yearnings reflect our own.”
“Promenade of Desire sets the author’s sexual coming-of-age story against Spain’s sexual and political awakening in a unique and intriguing pairing.”
“Mencos takes readers on her compelling, personal journey of rebellion against the backdrop of her country’s evolution to democracy. Fighting against family, tradition, and society’s expectations of women, she ultimately triumphs.”