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In this collection of stories, Poniatowska weaves together the disparate lives that make up Mexico's rich cultural tapestry. These are stories about servants and matriarchs, street sweepers and sorceresses, shop keepers, nannies, mothers, travelers, prostitutes, and drug addicts. They are stories of broken lives and broken hearts, of betrayal and rebirth. The language is melodic, sensual, plain, coarse, aristocratic. It reflects the varied idioms of Mexico's diverse social classes. Poniatowska constructs characters of immense complexity, then slowly peels away the emotional and psychological layers to expose their greatest vulnerability. Nowhere is this more visible than in the title story The Heart of the Artichoke.