Haunted by memories of a reckless past, the protagonist revisits New Orleans to face her demons and to set her soul to rest. The book flashes back to the early 1990s when Mary Veronica Fait, a sheltered yet rebellious teenager, journals her transformation from a trapped orphan into a spirited woman who faces life head-on after the tragic death of her parents.
Mary Veronica takes charge of her destiny, changes her name, and moves to New Orleans where she attends art classes during the day and works as a waitress in a Cajun restaurant by night. The book’s title –the name of this restaurant–serves as a metaphor for the blend of people she meets, characters who create adventures and misadventures, and who ultimately help Mary Veronica grow.
Echoing the style of the journals found in Bram Stoker's Dracula, Vargas retells in diary form how Mary Veronica Fait gains independence by leaving behind a life of privilege in Washington D.C. for a life as an art student in New Orleans, Louisiana. Void of the comforts of wealth, and released from an abusive, controlling, uncle, Mary Veronica, granddaughter of renowned artist, Jean-Luc Fait, becomes Veronica Fey.
Years later, Mary Veronica Fait, mature and in charge of the family fortune and art museum, is haunted by the belief that she may have left part of her soul behind in the deep south and must face her dark past in order to win it back. Through therapy and by revisiting her teenage journal entries, Mary Veronica returns to New Orleans and finally finds peace.
Set in the sultry, steamy backdrop of pre-Katrina Louisiana, Vargas gives the reader an intimate window into the life of the teenager Veronica Fey, the psychological and physical abuse she endures with an alcoholic guardian, and the inner strength that releases her from his control to finally live life on her own terms.
This is Vargas’ debut novel and was a 2011 Readers Favorite Award Winner for fiction. Vargas was four when she wrote her first book then at the age of seven she authored a book about Dolphins which was featured in the Christian Science Monitor. Like her main character in Gumbeaux, Vargas–currently a human resources manager for Modern Postcard in Carlsbad, CA–has always been independent, kept journals and is a fine artist. Her art pieces, held in private collections, recreate the romance of southern plantation homes and the intense color of floral studies in acrylics.
Vargas has strong family ties to Washington D. C. and as her father was a naval eye surgeon her family traveled extensively throughout the USA. As a young adult Vargas attended college in Louisiana, which remains dear to her heart. "The more people who fall in love with Louisiana the better, because then they will take care of it. I'm hoping this book generates interest for them to do so," she says.
Now residing in San Diego, but still bitten by the travel bug, Vargas along with her husband, Michael, visits tropical points where they can surf and paddle board and be close to the dolphins. Like her character Veronica Fey, Vargas believes in living life to the fullest and cannot refuse the call to adventure.
“Author Kimberly Vargas’s deeply personal narrative draws the reader into a unique cast of quirky characters and unexpected relational dynamics. This story literally pours off the page, overflowing with complex relationships that intertwine both the familiar and the uncomfortable.”
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