Eighteen-year-old Hilda, known as "the girl in the gold bikini" when she swam at her country club in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, abruptly leaves the gilded life to take up residence in room 304 of the Hotel Marvelous—as a prostitute. There she becomes Hilda Hurricane, an erotic force of nature no man can resist. The exception is reporter-narrator Roberto Drummond, who attempts to unravel the mystery of why the girl in the gold bikini would forego a comfortable life to join the world's oldest profession. While some in Belo Horizonte cheer Hilda's liberated lifestyle, others seek to have her moved outside the city limits, and a would-be saint cannot seem to finish the exorcism he began outside the Hotel Marvelous. Set against the social and political upheaval of the 1960s, Hilda's story seduces even as Drummond becomes aware of more ominous forces approaching Belo Horizonte.
Hilda Hurricane was both a critical and a commercial success in Brazil, with more than 200,000 copies sold. (The DVD of the television adaptation has sold more than a million copies.) Admirers of Kurt Vonnegut will revel in Drummond's similarly sharp satire and playful digressions, particularly about left-wing politics, which blur the boundary between fiction and autobiography. Yet the real genius of the author's interventions may be that they never slow the story long enough to lose sight of this mysterious beauty swept up in the turmoil of the times.