"Emma was an illegitimate child, raised in a windowless room in Bogota with no water or toilet and only ingenuity to keep her and her sister alive. Abandoned by their mother, she and her sister moved to a Catholic convent housing 150 orphan girls, where they washed pots, ironed and mended laundry, scrubbed floors, cleaned bathrooms, sewed garments and decorative cloths for the nuns--and lived in fear of the Devil. Illiterate and knowing nothing of the outside world, Emma escaped at age nineteen, eventually coming to have a career as an artist and to befriend the likes of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera as well as European artists and intellectuals. Far from self-pitying, the portrait that emerges from this clear-eyed account inspires awe at the stunning early life of a gifted writer whose talent remained hidden for far too long."--Adapted from back cover.