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The Secret Book of Frida Kahlo

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  1,643 ratings  ·  198 reviews
One of Mexico’s most celebrated new novelists, F. G. Haghenbeck offers a beautifully written reimagining of Frida Kahlo’s fascinating life and loves.

When several notebooks were recently discovered among Frida Kahlo’s belongings at her home in Coyoacán, Mexico City, acclaimed Mexican novelist F. G. Haghenbeck was inspired to write this beautifully wrought fictional account
ebook, 368 pages
Published September 25th 2012 by Atria Books (first published 2009)
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Average rating 3.81  · 
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 ·  1,643 ratings  ·  198 reviews

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Jan 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For recipes 5*

Overall 3.5*
Mar 01, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: mexican-lit
I saw the cover of this book across the bookstore and was intrigued. The jacket liner said this book was based on the "secret" Hierba Santa Book and now lost. That sparked a further interest as a few years ago I had read Frida's Notebook. positioned nicely between chapters were authentic Frida recipes that sounded awfully sensuous too. The author is a Mexican who had won an award (for another book) and perhaps he might have some more insight so I thought, "Why not?"

It was fun. This is basically
Jeanette (Again)
Frida, Frida, horny chiquita.
She didn't get to have a very long life, but she made sure she didn't get shortchanged when it came to physical pleasure. Considering the decades of relentless, excruciating pain she had to endure, it's no surprise that she wanted to drown that pain with carnal delights.

3.5 stars
Rebecca Renard
Nov 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Though I appreciate Frida's art work, I've never really been a "Frida-phile". So when my father gifted me with this book, I wasn't sure if I'd truly enjoy it. From the first page, though, I was hooked; and as the story progressed, I found myself absolutely swimming in its images, smells, sounds, and emotions. Haghenbeck created such a rich, detailed magical world for Frida Kahlo. I could feel what Frida was feeling about Diego, about his lovers, about her lovers, about her pain, and about those ...more
Nicko D
Absolutely by chance I found this book, but it definitely grabbed my attention. The book could be read in few hours. Who hasn’t heard about Frida Kahlo? Definitely a very interesting life filled with all sorts of events and meetings with more interesting people like Salvador Dali, Henry Miller, Picasso, Hemingway, etc. As far as I know the book purports to be a biography of Frida. For me Frida deserves far better biography than this and one idea more serious book! In this book for me was hard to ...more
Diana Flatto
May 08, 2013 rated it it was ok
I picked it up for Frida, and was seriously disappointed. It reads like it was written for a 5th grader, but the graphic sexual encounters show the author meant the book for a more mature audience. I also really didn't like the recipe book/journal parts, printed in handwriting, which made me feel like people looking over my shoulder in the subway were severely judging me. Overall an unpleasant read, despite some interesting moments.
AnneKristine Norris
As I was reading this book, it constantly reminded me of grading fourth grade essays. Extravagant use of literary device just for the sake of literary devices. Too many similes on a page for me. I couldn't get through it. On to something else.
Chai Agaban
Apr 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book. It added another layer of color to Frida's already colorful tapestry of life. It brought colors and wonders to the paintings of Kahlo. After reading the book, one will never see her paintings the same way again. Though fictional, the references to Frida's life events are real.
Amanda Woodward
May 23, 2015 rated it liked it
This was a strange and eerie book that made me want a good mole.
Lena Rakhimova
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
a very interesting mix of mysticism and recipes that create a sense of home and hope, despite Frida’s tragic life, health problems and depression.
May 27, 2016 rated it it was ok
I can probably pick out a Frida Kahlo painting; they're pretty distinctive. But I definitely can't say that I know much about her life. So, I was instantly intrigued by the premise of The Secret Book of Frida Kahlo.

The titular secret book was found among her personal effects at La Casa Azul, her childhood home, and contained recipes for offerings on the Day of the Dead. The book mysteriously vanished the day it was supposed to be exhibited.

This is just one of the things that puzzled me. Did this
Sep 08, 2012 rated it liked it
I became interested in Frida Kahlo when I was first introduced to Diego Rivera in an Art History class. I admit, I did not care for Diego's murals as much as I did Frida's honesty. I didn't understand why we didn't go more into Frida as we did Diego. To this day I still do not. I think she was actually the better painter of the two. Her work which has a surreal quality to it, often shows her pain in which she was plagued all of her life.

This book did remind me about the movie made of her life, F
Jun 28, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc
Last summer I was happy to receive books from Atria Books Galley Alley and this was one. I was reading The Lacuna and thought this would continue my background on Frida, art, history of the '20s to the '50s, etc. Unfortunately it was no comparison--to continue with the food thread of this book, it would be the same if someone offered a saltine after having a Mississippi Mud pie.

Maybe I'm hungry. But it can't be because of the recipes and food descriptions in this book. Even after reading the re
Jul 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
In my very early twenties, I was exposed to Kahlo's works at an exhibition at SMU. I was enthralled.

I had never seen anything so weird or wonderful.

Since that time and long ago art exhibit, I have been fascinated with the life and works of Frida Kahlo, the Mexican artist and personality who has perhaps over-shadowed her once more famous husband, Diego Rivera. Picking up The Secret Book of Frida Kahlo by F. G. Haghenbeck was a natural for me.

Haghenbeck discovered a small notebook belonging to K
Smoky Zeidel
May 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Magical realism lends itself well to this imaginative story of the life of Frida Kahlo, an artist who, to me, was already larger than life. I was in tears as the book drew to its inevitable conclusion.
Éva Tóth-Bumberák
Sep 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It was a beautiful book for a real fanatic as me, I liked the concept with the recipes and the death following Frida. I could understand that it might not be a perfect literature piece for people who look at it that way, but in my opinion, for what it wanted to be it was very great.
Sep 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting! I loved it!
Sep 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I greatly admire Frida Kahlo and I never get tired of reading books about her life and works of art.

“The Secret Book of Frida Kahlo” is another engaging fictional memoir of the Mexican artist, written with a touch of Magical Realism, with messengers from the other world and Death itself as characters, that seem so in tune with Kahlo. From her childhood to her agonizing end, we follow this outspoken woman, who just wanted to be happy, but had to face unbearable obstacles. In fact, it is still ha
Mona  AlvaradoFrazier
Oct 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book is a translation from the Spanish novel by F.G. Haghenbeck, a Mexican author, and historian who writes award-winning crime novels, scripts for Superman and other graphic novels. I give you his background because all of it enters into his fascinating fictional account of Frida Kahlo's life.

The book starts out with: "Among Frida Kahlo's personal effects, there was a little black book called 'The Hierba Santa Book'...a recipe collection for offerings on the Day of the Dead...It was to be
The Secret Book of Frida Kahlo is as much or more about the food as it is the story of Frida's life, told from the notebooks and sketchbooks supposedly found in Frida's home, Casa Azul in Mexico City. The author, F. G. Haghenbeck, writes the novel as a special notebook; “El Libro de Hierba Santa” (“The Sacred Herbs Book”) where Frida's story is shared through her memories and recipes. Frida Kahlo led a very colorful life in more ways than one and the book is at times sad, at times humorous, at t ...more
Octavia Cade
May 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
A fictional biography of the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, with magical realist overtones. The underlying relationship is that between Frida and her "godmother" Death, and this lends a fantastic touch to the text.

I've been a fan of Kahlo for years, ever since I saw a film about her, so I knew the bare bones of her biography. I haven't read any fiction about her before though, and this book is highly imaginative, well worth a read.

The writing's vivid and sensual, punctuated by Mexican recipes. Gran
Feb 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-clubs
I was recently in Mexico on vacation, and Frida Kahlo's image is absolutely everywhere (I even dined at a restaurant inspired by her art), so I was very intrigued by this novel.

In fact, I had to remind myself several times during reading that this was a novel - it's a dramatization of Frida Kahlo's life. The imagery of the beauty, the pain, the foods, and the culture hooked me from the beginning.

I only wish that more of her works were mentioned by name (so I could reference them later). I also n
Sep 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book is a great place to start if you want to get a better understanding of Frida Kahlo the artist and the person. I love how it was like a shot of magic realism but at the same time so rooted in artistic and political history. Any book which gives a glimpse of Hemingway, Dali, Nin and Duchamp is a treat for me.
Mary Montgomery
Nov 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really like reading about other cultures, and I've always thought Frida was really interesting. Although this was fiction, I think it was based a lot on events and people in her life. I never knew a lot about her but I think after there's been a period of time I'll want to know more.
Andrea Wall
This book was my selection for the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge Prompt #7: Read an #ownvoices book set in Mexico or Central America.

I absolutely love Frida Kahlo and I am always looking to learn more about her life and her art. I was really excited to read this fiction work about her whole life from birth to death. Non-fiction is great way to learn all the facts, but fiction can help bring a person from history to life, and this book did just that. I loved the recipes included at the end o
Jan 13, 2020 rated it liked it
I absolutely adore Frida Kahlo's art and personality, she was definitely an artist who had a massive impact on people all around the world and belongs to Mexico's image of being colourful and so exciting.

However, as much as I wanted to like this book, I kept checking how many pages are left as I was going through it. I understand that it is very hard to write a partly fictional biography about a real person, but sometimes the story felt a bit too fictional and a bit too 'basic' if I may say.

May 08, 2020 rated it did not like it
This book was just the worst. I am genuinely in shock that it got published. I think the translation was poorly done, but even a bad translation would only do so much damage. This book felt like one long run on sentence. It was basically just the author telling us "this happened, then this happened, then this happened." He tried hard to bring in some element of magical realism with the personification of death and the man with the moustache but it just didn't work. There was hardly any dialogue ...more
Ma Velazquez
Jun 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this from beginning to end, taking a concept from old Germany and melting it with Mexican culture is probably the craziest thing I have ever seen, and I am from Mexico myself. I have loved Frida ever since my mom took me to Casa Azul when I was barely 7 years old and reading about it is just as weird as it is knowing you can go there. Life and death are concepts that I think not many people all over the world will understand as much as we do in Mexico, the way we laugh about it and the w ...more
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was uncomfortable with the way the setup and style of this book romanticized Frida's pain and suffering. True, she lived a life of epic proportions and the surrealist nature of her work lends itself to this format of storytelling, but it felt like Haghenbeck took advantage of her unique history to be able to structure an interesting storyline tieing together many celebrities and historical events. I worried that sometimes she was simplified to a caricature of "a woman who suffers" and some of ...more
Aug 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Frida Kahlo's life-death, and what it is between the two, are deserved 5 stars and more.
I would like to give four star for this book but I guess in some points it is too esoteric/abstruse.
I loved the Mexican culture and the receipts... I would die to cook these meals but here, in Hungary - I am afraid of that I can not buy the same ingredients.
Frida is really inspiring, charming and strength. I would like to give this book or just her stories every little girl, woman and to man also - to see th
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Francisco Gerardo Haghenbeck nació en 1965, en Ciudad de México. Estudió arquitectura en la Universidad La Salle y trabajó en museos, y posteriormente en Televisa como creativo y productor. Fundó Costal de huesos, editorial dedicada al cómic mexicano.

En conjunto con Brian Augustyn y Oscar Pinto escribió el guion de Crimson, una serie de cómics de fantasía y horror, primero publicada por Image Comi

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