For anyone who has visited Mexico, and enjoyed it, Miss Miles’ book will be both delightful and nostalgic. In the course of an eight-month sojourn Miss Miles traveled widely in Mexico, going into a number of areas not seen by the casual tourist. She is a good and sympathetic observer, with an obvious liking for the Mexican people and an appreciation for Mexican terrain and climate.
The book is in no sense history, even though the author is aware of the historic and archaeological background of the people and places she describes. It is a book about Mexico today, ancient sites, modern cities, out-of-the-way villages, and the people associated with them. The contrast in Mexican life is everywhere visible. The extremes of poverty and opulence, antiquity and modernity, superstition and sophistication are recurring themes.
The chapters entitled “Antonio’s Wedding” and “Guanajuato and the Plays” are particularly pleasing. Antonio’s wedding took place in a little village reached by antiquated truck over a road which, by description, might well give an arriero pause. And the village is both an anachronism and an indication of the task which Mexico still faces. The Guanajuato plays are an adventure in cultural make-believe in a setting so imaginative that it is difficult to conceive of anything more convincing.
What does Miss Miles offer the historian? The occasional historical digression which she presents is brief and not always entirely accurate. A future generation of historians may welcome her description of the current scene; however, this is not a work on the level with a Madame Calderón de la Barca or a Mrs. O’Shaughnessy. Miss Miles had neither the entree nor the interest to deal seriously with the politico-economic conditions. The book should be read for what it is, an account of travel and experiences. Viewed in this light, it is both entertaining and worthwhile.