Nancy Oakes's Reviews > Heliopolis

Heliopolis by James Scudamore
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Sep 09, 09

really liked it
Read in September, 2009



Set in modern-day Sao Paulo, Brazil, Heliopolis is the story of Ludo Dos Santos, the son of a woman who serves as a cook to a wealthy family, the Carnicellis. The Carnicellis own a farm which they use for weekend getaways and other family functions, as well as business dealings. It is there that Ludo lives. He was actually born into a 'favela' (a kind of shantytown area for squatters in the city)with no father at hand, Ludo and his mother became the pet project of Rebecca Carnicelli, who's out to save the world. On the farm, Ludo gets to see the Carnicelli's daughter Melissa, and they grow up very close. At some point, Rebecca and her husband, Ze, decide to adopt Ludo and take him into the city, where he lives in a walled compound with its own security force. As the novel opens, Ludo is now in his late 20s, works for an ad agency and is lust with his adoptive sister Melissa, who is now married. Heliopolis examines, from Ludo's point of view, the personal feelings of alienation in both the rich and poor worlds of the city, as he is a part of both, struggling with his own sense of identity. It also takes a look at inherent tensions of both groups on their own.

This is a novel rich in sights, sounds, and smells and one which is very well written. The character of Ludo is very well drawn (although I must confess that not many of the others really stand out except for the cleaning lady), the plot development is good and the story moves along well with no stalls.

The book is quite good and I can definitely recommend it. Scudamore is a writer I will definitely read more from -- his descriptive abilities and his portrayal of the contrast between rich and poor are the highlights of his writing.
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