Issue 19: Layers of Longevity
Picaflor by Jessica Talbot
‘Picaflor, that’s what they call a hummingbird here: a snacker, nibbler, pecker of flowers.
Is that what I am? A restless searcher of sweet nectar?’
In Picaflor, a true story, Jessica Talbot invites the reader to travel beside her as she searches for love and meaning, while traversing the fascinating countries of South America. Along the way she lets go of grief, grasps hold of the present and finds herself occupying her own weather beaten shoes.
When unexpected signs appear on her path she asks, ‘Is this serendipity or fate?’ As the journey unfolds she realises that you don’t need to know, it can be magical either way.
The story starts with Jessica getting a tattoo of a hummingbird, a reminder of new beginnings. Then a kiss at sunrise in the snow-dusted Andes of Peru sends her on a restless, risky journey that ends in Argentina. As she travels through unknown terrain, new friends give her important insights into the meaning of friendship, and old ties strengthen as she frees herself from the past. It’s in the exhilarating but complicated city of Buenos Aires that she finally understands what it means to feel ‘home’.
For this Issue of All Authors Magazine, we’ve chose “Picaflor” by Jessica Talbot. As for why … let us present you with a review by Y. Correa, Founder of All Authors P&P
Have you ever read a memoir and felt as though it was a dream that you once had, or as if in some way you were connected to it? Have you ever read a true life chronicle that made you feel as though you were living a dèjá vu of sorts, but in a whimsical and out-of-body kind of way?
It’s so strange because that had never happened to me before, until I picked up “Picaflor”. Perhaps it was the way the story was relayed, perhaps the author’s writing style, perhaps even the fact that there were intermittent letters addressed to a lost loved one. But, whatever the reason, “Picaflor”, to me, was a grand adventure traversing various times and places, all told in a way that made me feel like I was part of the recounting.
I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me go back to the premise for a bit.
Jessica Talbot introduces her life story to us in the most powerful of ways; by writing a letter to her deceased loved one, Daniel. The letter is so powerful and is portrayed in such a fanciful narrative that it makes one feel as if life is magic and all consuming … in a good way. My favorite part of the letter is the end when she tells Daniel that she can hear the pitter-pattering of feet on the pavement, which indicates that her two loves have arrived; her husband and son.
Immediately after that, we are submerged into her decision to get the tattoo of a hummingbird, “picaflor” in Spanish. From there we get to see Peru vicariously through the eyes of the author. And, such an enchanted place she depicts it to be. By the end of the journey we are in Argentina, which subsequently becomes her residence. But, oh, it was so much more! It was home!
From giving us the impressive descriptions of the scenery, to the South-American life styles, to the new friends and old that have made a mark in her life, Ms. Talbot illustrates a powerful tale about how she found a home away from home. All of this done through pain, trails and rediscovery.
One scene that stood out and made me chuckle a bit was when she spoke of the bus with live chickens on it. I imagined what that would be like and giggled.
Also, there are so many layers of emotion within the pages of “Picaflor”. From loss, to love, to anger, to excitement. I mean, you name the sentiment and it was present here. “Picaflor” is a complex compound of having to make your way in a world that can be difficult, but also beautiful, and in the end your souls true abode.
I was smitten and taken aback, all at once, with “Picaflor”. While I find that the cover is beautiful, I’ve learned that the narrative is more so. It took me about a week to read the story and I would always do it before bed at night because I wanted to be able to go to sleep with the images in my mind. “Picaflor” is a biographical journal that will stay with you for a long time. One that you might even want to go back and read again from time to time.
In reference to syntax, it was perfect. In regards to enjoyability, it was outstanding. I honestly have nothing bad to say about this book, or nothing that I could suggest be changed or perfected. “Picaflor” is one of those rare books that I loved.
I give “Picaflor” by Jessica Talbot 5 Stars.