Picaflor: A Novel About Finding Home In South America
Article by Nora Wallenius.
We’ve all experienced that moment in life when we are stuck- stuck in a rut, in a bad relationship, in a mental state- we’re just stuck. Some of us hope that life continues on, that one day things will just magically get better. Others choose to make this change happen, to push our life forward. For those of us who have found ourselves living in a foreign country far from home, for a multitude of reasons, Picaflor is the perfectly realistic insight into what it takes to pack up your whole life and move across the world. In her new autobiographical memoir entitled Picaflor, Jessica Talbot details her courageous (and sometimes risky!) decisions that have led her life to settle in Buenos Aires.
Picaflor begins with Jessica’s first journey to South America from Australia, following a devastating tragedy that leaves her in a cloud of depression. Looking for a way to forget, she travels to Peru, not exactly sure of what she will find. After two love affairs, a few travel missteps, and many laughs and tears later, Jessica finds herself happily married in Buenos Aires with a beautiful baby boy.
Sitting down with Jessica, an energetic and smiley Kiwi from New Zealand, I probed her on her personal thoughts on Picaflor, South America, and living life as a “foreigner.”
What led you to write Picaflor? What were you hoping to achieve?
There were a lot of factors that pushed me to write the story. The main one was a desire to share my story with others who struggle with the same kinds of feelings I had when I started the journey. While I was travelling around South America and living in Buenos Aires during the first years, I kept meeting people who seemed to be lost in the world, searching for something-– a place to belong, meaning, love, and most were disconnected somehow from their families back in their home countries. I guess I saw a similar aching, and that brought out the psychologist in me. I hoped that by sharing the story, others (and not just people who have found themselves in a foreign lands) would be inspired to make changes, take risks, work on letting go and making peace with themselves and others.
First and foremost, I wanted to write a compelling story about a transformative journey, set in South America, but secondly I wanted it to be a kind of emotional/psychological road map that could be therapeutic for some readers (but without getting into self-help territory). I also wanted to prove to myself that I could do it.
How do you think readers in Buenos Aires will react to Picaflor? Readers who have never been to South America?
I think the book will resonate most with expatriates, past and present, although I think Argentine readers will enjoy the story of a foreigner finding a home here. I think they would be both surprised and perhaps proud too! I think when a country has been through hard times and continues to struggle, its people bond together, its families stay close, in part because they have to, and that has benefits in comparison to places where it’s easier (and encouraged) to be highly self sufficient and independent. One theme of the story is about a need, for most people, to feel part of ‘a tribe’ of interconnected people, even though the world has changed. As well, I wrote the book so people from around the world could learn more about South America, and especially Argentina – the good, the bad, the incomprehensible and the ‘feeling’ of living here. I wanted to try and make sense of the ‘why’ behind why I’m happy to now call Argentina home, despite the difficulties of living here.
What are your future plans for the book and this story?
I’m going to give Picaflor all the ‘aliento’ I can right now, in the hope that it might fly, at least for a little while. There were many times I felt like giving up, but a little voice kept telling me to see it through, so I did. And then, I don’t know, I have another book project doing flips in my head so that’s a possibility. It’s a novel this time!
For the whole story, grab your copy of Picaflor and be ready to laugh, cry, and discover life along with Jessica’s journey.
Picaflor is available for purchase through online retailers, such as Barnes and Noble and Amazon. Paperbacks are available in Buenos Aires at Centro Cultural Plaza Castelli or directly from Jessica Talbot for a signed copy!
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Two winners will be selected to receive a gift copy!
We are happy to announce the winners of the free copy of Picaflor! Gary wins for the E-copy and Emily for the hard copy in Buenos Aires. Thanks to everyone for participating and showing support for Jessica’s incredible story. For those of you who did not win and still want your copy, Picaflor is available for purchase online as e-books on Amazon, Nook, Kobo, iBook, and Barnes and Noble. Paperbacks are available in Buenos Aires at Centro Cultural Plaza Castelli or directly from Jessica Talbot for a signed copy!