Bitter Grounds depicts the luxurious lives of the wealthy in Salvadoran society through the Contreras family, owners of a coffee plantation. Elena de Contreras travels to Europe with her daughter to select wardrobes, spends idle time at luncheons and teas with society friends, and supports her daughter in opening an expensive gift shop in town. Yet when betrayal rocks Elena's protected and pampered world, she reveals an iron will no one had glimpsed in her before. In stark contrast are the lives of the coffee pickers, who must live a hard-scrabble existence in close proximity to the privileged elite. Jacinta Prieto comes from such a background, and as housekeeper to the Contreras family, is privy to their innermost secrets. Jacinta has secrets of her own, including a love affair with a married man whose identity she risks all to conceal. By interweaving the stories of these women, Benitez draws dramatic differences and surprising parallels in their worlds, evoking their passions and revealing their hatreds with amazing empathy.
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