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- trapped in a broiling stationary train, or in a bus with a dead fish 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 theatricality of a Mexican neighbourhood.