Readers ask me if Elisa is based on my own story, and the answer is “I wish!” I wish I had a millionth of her strength, faith, and science-oriented brain. No, Elisa is someone I wish I could be, or someone I would want for a daughter or best friend. Maybe because of that, she has some of the best virtues in all the women I’ve met: my mother’s strength, my grandma’s gift for love, my best friend’s ability to see the best in people… I did give her my hair and her biggest flaws, which are stubbornness and a tendency for moodiness. Readers will find their favorite things and pet peeves about Elisa. Below is just some fun trivia about her.
Elisa has a highly logical brain. If something doesn’t make sense, she doesn’t like it. But she doesn’t give up. She will usually find a solution—not in small part due to her enormous IQ of 160. However, when logic fails her—as it often does in love and loss—she allows herself to feel, and feel strongly. Perhaps because of that, and because she has tried to preserve a childhood aspect of herself due to losing her parents at an early age, Elisa—for all her IQ, brain, and book-smarts—is a little naive.
Like Aiden, she, too, is a mass of contradictions. Although she is a scientist, she resists taking medication until she starts running a fever. She loves all things American, in stark contrast to her British roots and her anglophile roommate, Reagan. She hates driving in any form, and prefers public transportation or walking. She loves gardening, but does not like physical pursuits (except Argentine tango and Aiden’s sexapades). Although she loves playing chess, she is naturally a negotiator and peacemaker. And even though she is absorbed with technology and science, in her life, she likes olden-days, vintage things. From her mother’s dresses, to her hair style. She makes her own cosmetics and perfume in a lab. Because of this, Aiden—who remembers smell and sound with perfect clarity—is drawn to her scent as he has never smelled it before.
Elisa is career-driven but has managed to find the balance with family. Her current professional dream is to develop a drink (preferably one that tastes like hot chocolate) that can modify the power of memories at the first few gulps. She hypothesizes that she can do so by playing with the body’s natural cortisol levels which rise due to stress. Read below from Elisa’s favorite songs, books, and things.
Pink Martini, Amado Mio
Ludwig Van Beethoven, Fur Elise
Nina Simone, I Shall Be Released
Florence + the Machine, No Light, No Light
Johnny Cash, I Walk the Line
Julio Iglesias, Baila Morena
Lana Del Rey, This is What Makes Us Girls
Maroon 5, One More Night
Adriano Celentano, Soli
Lucio Dalla, Caruso
Beyonce, Sweet Dreams
Leo Tolstoy, Ana Karenina
Fyodor Dostoveyski, Brothers Karamazov
Emily Dickinson, Selected Poems
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude
Vladimir Nabakov, Lolita
Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time
Pablo Neruda, The Essential Neruda
Frances Hodgson Burnett, Secret Garden
Richard Burton and A. S. Byatt, The Arabian Nights
ELISA’S FAVORITE THINGS
Reed College, especially the Biology and Chemistry Departments and the nuclear reactor. The calligraphy classes are great, too.
Powell’s Bookstore, especially the Rare Book Room and the Isaac Newton aisle
Portland Rose Garden, especially the Shakespeare Garden
Aeternum Romantica rose, which grows in Kenya due to rare pollen (more on this will be revealed in the book)
Baci Chocolates, and collecting the love notes inside each chocolate
Rose oil, especially the one she distills herself at the Biology lab
Portland Art Museum, especially the European Art Collection in the Belluschi Building
Portland’s Food Carts, especially Grilled Cheese Grill and (formerly) Brunch Box
Cornish Clotted Cream
Maria’s Carnitas (recipe will coming soon)
Aiden’s Fried Eggs (recipe coming soon)
The Pursuit of Happiness paintings, by Javier Solis