Mexico, through the eyes of Sybille Bedford is a country of passion and paradox: arid desert and shrieking jungle, harsh sun and deep shadow, violence and sentimentality. In her frank descriptions of the horrors of travel - through bug-infested jungle, trapped in a broiling stationary train, or in a bus with a dead fish slapping against her face - she gains our trust.
But it is the charmed world of Don Otavio which steals our imagination. He is, she says, "one of the kindest men I ever met". She stays in his crumbling ancestral mansion, living a life of provincial ease and observing with glee the intense life of a Mexican neighbourhood.