Swedish Tango: A Novel
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Swedish Tango: A Novel

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  245 ratings  ·  36 reviews
In this sweeping epic, true love transcends the brutality of war.

Octavio Ribeiro loves truth, beauty, literature, and above all else, his wife Salomé. As a student in Chile, he courted her with the words of great poets, and she fell in love with his fierce intelligence and uncompromising passion. Then a sudden coup brings a brutal military dictatorship into power, and put...more
Kindle Edition
Published (first published September 13th 2004)
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BEFORE READING: I am drawn to read this because the characters come from different cultures: Chilean, French and Finnish . They live in Sweden as foreign exiles, so Swedish customs will also be part of the picture. The status of foreign exiles in Sweden is sure to be an interesting subject. Furthermore it concerns the overthrow of Allende in Chile, and Pinochet's subsequent rule. Finally, I simply very much liked that style of writing found in the sample.


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Two individual stories are interwoven and it all comes together beautifully throughout this deeply touching book. The intriguing characters are well developed with a lot of historical background which gives a good understanding of the life and politics in Chili in the 1960's - 1970's. The book comes to life with the beautiful descriptive writing of the landscapes and countrysides.

Octavio and Salome Ribeiro are a couple living in Chili. Salome is abducted and wrongly imprisoned by Pinochet's reg...more
In “Swedish Tango,” Alyson Richman covers, through tales of personal devastation and resurrection, the tragic political upheaval of Allende’s Chile, the sad, and to most of us I’m sure sadly obscure story of Finnish War children, and the complexities of survivor’s guilt through the eyes and heart of a man only part of whose family escaped prewar France. With these enormous events as backdrop, she manages to at the same time delicately navigate two larger-than-life relationships; relationships wh...more
Romancing the Book
Reviewed by Robin
Book provided by the publisher for review
Review originally posted at Romancing the Book

Ms. Richman once again has her characters tugging at my heartstrings. Originally written under the name of Swedish Tango we find ourselves involved in the lives of four people. Separate yet connected by the brutal acts that war can bring into the lives of those that are affected by it in a close and personal way.

This story made me sit up and think about the dynamics of a family ravished by the...more
La musica segreta dei ricordi è un romanzo che narra una storia molto intensa ed emozionante, in cui le storie dei vari personaggi si intersecano nel corso degli anni, creando un romanzo che potrebbe quasi definirsi corale, in cui ognuno di loro ha una parte importante...
Octavio e Salomè vivono in Cile insieme ai tre figli nella bellissima Casa Rosa, ai tempi del governo di Salvador Allende, in quegli anni in cui la situazione politica in Cile si faceva sempre più difficile, tanto che alla fine...more
Judith Spencer
If I could have given this book 11/10 I would have done so.
The Rhythm of Memory combines the gripping storytelling with the evocative settings of Chile and Sweden to tell this sumptuous,beautiful story.
It is a novel woven around 2 haunting love stories, I loved all the characters, and felt their pain. It had me in floods of tears, and had to keep stopping as it was so heart wrenching. It was truly a fascinating story, it was just beautiful! I can't praise Alyson enough for her outstanding way wi...more
Michael Jenkins
Octavio is a young and ambitious student who loves Literature. Growing up in a lower class family, he is considered penniless by most families but he is passionate about Literature. One day he comes across a beautiful woman, Salome who takes his breath away. Captivated by her gorgeous looks, he is devoted to spending every moment with her without the presence of her relatives. Often they secretly meet up to give in to the bitter temptation that they are faced against. Unlike Octavio, Salome is f...more
Kelly Massry
I came across this book unexpectedly on a recent trip to Barnes and Noble. I’d loved The Lost Wife and wasn’t aware that Alyson Richman had another novel out. (I think, actually, that it’s a re-publication of a previous book of hers written in 2004.) I admit this was a case of judging a book by its cover – it looked so Victorian and romantic to me. Also, though, I trusted Richman because of the poignant success of The Lost Wife. So much so that I bought the book blindly, without even reading an...more
Meg - A Bookish Affair
Alyson Richman weaves a tale of four intertwined characters. There is Octavio, handsome Chilean movie star who supports the ousted Socialist President Allende even after the President is killed to make way for the military General Pinochet. There is Salome, Octavio's wife who is kidnapped and brutalized by the Pinochet regime because of her husband's political beliefs. There is Samuel, who escaped to Sweden after fleeing Vichy France during WWII. And there is Kaija, a war refugee herself forced...more
Alyson Richman offers another rich story about the ways in which human beings recover, even from the darkest experiences. This is a compelling read, though not for the fainthearted. There are disturbing passages detailing the torture inflicted under the Pinochet regime in Chile. But the real story is about deep love, between man and woman, parent and child. Through a collection of Richman's fully drawn, complex, and believable characters, we see how people who are profoundly challenged by the ci...more
This story did not even seem like a fiction but more like a memoir of several different very good people who poured out their souls and emotions on the pages of the book. They were all affected by the horros of military dictatorships, either WWII or Pinochet's regime in Chile, one way or the other. However, in spite of their misfortunes, they all rebuilt their lives in a foreign country never loosing their inner beauty in the process.
I really enjoy reading books by this author and look forward t...more
The author has a strong ability to verbally describe subtleties and depict a realistic scene. Unfortunately it's also her downfall. She turns the narrative into an overgrown rose garden and loses some truth in her unpruned verbosity. There was an element of historical interest popping up here and there in the tangoesque (sic) writing, but that was drawn out to its thinnest veneer. The book started out with promise but by the end, turned into a silly Harlequin novel. Disappointing.
Adela Holda
Another beautifully written novel by Alyson Richman. As is evidenced in "The Lost Wife", Alyson writes in such exquisite detail that the reader feels very much present in the story. The story line itself is intriguing as it involves love, passion and politics in a harsh setting truly indicative of the times. The novel challenges the notion that "love conquers all" and shows that even the truest love may not be able to withstand the yearnings of individual souls.
After reading The Lost Wife, I didn't think I could like another book by Alyson Richman as well, but I enjoyed this book just as much. From children living in Finland taken away from parents for safety during the war, to a student in Chile falling in love with a girl from a wealthy family, the tragic happenings to the woman he loves, and a psychiatrist who lost his family, and how it all comes together. What a great author
Rebecca Reardon
The book is filled with characters damaged by war and torture. Refugees from Finland, Chile and France spin their stories into a single plot line revealing a truth about the strength of the human spirit. Characters are empathetically drawn and the survivors are those who continue to seek hope. I had to interrupt some of the passages for respite in a lighter novel but the story was so compelling I kept returning.
Decent. Not as much about the Pinochet regime as I would have liked, but it provokes some interesting psychological questions, mainly, "how would you react if you were in the shoes of each of the characters?"

Also, the writing is rather straightforward and blunt, which is how I like it, but it leaves little for the reader to infer on his or her own.
Diane Luzar
Interesting book about survivors of both WWII and Chilian government under Pinochet and how it all came together in Sweden under the care of a French Jewish survivor. A hard story to read at times (torture under Pinochet) but well worth learning about the history of different nations. Great historical fiction.
Sue  Parker Gerson
Found this book interesting and well written, and although not as captivating as The Lost Wife (which was terrific), it looks at two historical episodes - that of Finnish war children, and of Pinochet's brutality half a world and a generation away - that I previously knew little about. Worthwhile.
2010- I picked this book up on a whim. As I read, I found I enjoyed the background stories about each of the characters much more than I enjoyed the ""main"" plot line, which revolves around a Chilean family readjusting upon receiving political asylum in Sweden.
Jessica B
What an epic story! Right from the get go, you can picture exactly where the story is set - from sunny and warm South America to cold, icy Sweden. Secrets play an integral role in this story and how they can rip a family apart. TWP thumbs up!
Carol Eshaghy
Novel centering around the regimes of Allende and Pinochet and the effects on the people in Chile. Forced to flee their mother country, the main characters seek asylum in Sweden. Also, liked her novel, THE LOST WIFE.
Grandma Jo
The reign of Chile's Pinochet was evil leaving people with emotional and physical scars forever.
The heroine, Salome struggles with memories of torture while she tries to resume her life.
I enjoyed everything about this book. The characters, the heartache and love, the mother/child relationships, and the beautiful descriptions of the various countries.
The Rhythm of Memory was not as riveting to me as The Lost Wife. I did enjoy reading The Rhythm of Memory, but it just didn't resonate as well for me.
I didn't enjoy this book as much as The Lost Wife, but I did enjoy the book and learning about a historical era and places I haven't read about much
Jeanette Cortez
This book is amazing, This book is a page turner. The book was very vivid and may be a bit graphic sometimes but it is a well written book.
The torture scenes were horrific! I had to skip a lot of it. I also didn't like the affair. Unnecessary. Loved the visual richness of her writing.
I actually really enjoyed this book but found the torture scenes unpleasantly horrific and the affair at the end so unnecessary.

Loved every word of this book. I very much enjoy how Alyson Richman incorporates parts of history in the the story.
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Alyson Richman is the author of "The Mask Carver's Son," "The Rhythm of Memory (formerly published as Swedish Tango)," The Last Van Gogh," and the national bestseller, "The Lost Wife." Her books have been published in over fifteen languages. She loves to travel, cook, ride her yellow bicycle, and do ballet. She currently lives in New York with her husband and two children. Her novel, "The Garden o...more
More about Alyson Richman...
The Lost Wife The Last Van Gogh The Mask Carver's Son The Garden of Letters Grand Central: Original Stories of Postwar Love and Reunion

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