Review: Once Upon a Time in Rio by Francisco Azevedo

Posted July 14, 2014 by Katrina @ Bookish Things in Book Review / 0 Comments

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review: Once Upon a Time in Rio by Francisco AzevedoOnce Upon a Time in Rio by Francisco Azevedo
Published by Atria on June 24, 2014
Genres: Adult
Pages: 320
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository

From well-known Brazilian playwright Francisco Azevedo, a heartwarming debut novel about three generations of a family whose kitchen contains the secret ingredient for happiness—sure to appeal to fans of Like Water for Chocolate.

Once upon a time there was some rice. Rice planted in the earth, fallen from the sky, and gathered up from the stone. Rice that doesn’t spoil, it came from far away, by ship with three exuberant young people filled with dreams…

Once Upon a Time in Rio is a spellbinding family saga beginning with José Custódio and Maria Romana and their search for a prosperous future. As newlyweds, José and Maria immigrated to Brazil at the beginning of the twentieth century, accompanied by a special gift. During the dinner preparations to celebrate their centenary wedding anniversary, their eldest son Antonio, already a grandfather, looks back at the lives of his parents, his aunt, his brothers, their children and grandchildren, as well as his own.

Antonio knows that family is a difficult dish to get right and that happiness must be cooked up day by day; however, what separates his family from any other is its possession of a secret ingredient for happiness: the sack of magical rice given to his parents on their wedding day. With the help of the rice, whose magic is as old as fire and time, Antonio’s family has been guided through the most trying of life’s tribulations.

Lyrically written, Once Upon a Time in Rio bares the fragile yet strong nature of the human spirit and with great insight captures the solace provided by loved ones in times of need. Already an international bestseller, this is a beautifully told tale about the wisdom of past generations and the inextricable ties of family



It’s been a while since I’ve done a list version of a book review.  To shake things up I’m going to do that with this book.

  • Beautiful writing.
  • Transports you throughout the decades.
  • Shows the importance of family.
  • Conveys the struggles families go through.
  • Love the deep respect these characters have for their elders. (even when they think they are nuts)
  • The art of storytelling.
  • The magical rice.  The source of so much drama.
  • Aunt Palma. She’s such an amazing character, and reminds me of my great-grandmother.  Full of wisdom and advice.
  • Antonio, the main character.  He’s a dreamer, and tends to wander off in his mind.
  • The timeline. We get a view of him now, in his 80’s and flashbacks of his childhood and growing up.

There’s so many great things about this book.  I couldn’t put into words how I feel.  I do know that I definitely came away from this book knowing that my relationship with my family means a lot.

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Katrina @ Bookish Things

About Katrina @ Bookish Things

I'm a mom of two and love to read, listen to music, and rock out at concerts. Sometimes you can find me reading, or writing, in between sets at concerts. I read many genres, and have a TBR mountain.

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