This is the English translation of a novel originally written in Spanish, which has been very popular in Europe. Forty year old Blanca is the protagonThis is the English translation of a novel originally written in Spanish, which has been very popular in Europe. Forty year old Blanca is the protagonist. Her mother has just died and Blanca, overwhelmed with grief and confusion, decides to visit her mother's beach house in the resort town of Cadaques for the summer. She is joined by two dear girlfriends, her two sons and their respective fathers (her ex-husbands), and a married lover visiting nearby with his wife.
I expected not to like this book for a boatload of reasons. It looked like a beach read from the cover, and I am not typically a fan of the beach read genre. I am perhaps too much of a puritanical American to handle the casual sexuality, the drug use and cigarettes, and the affair with a married man. There were so many foreign (to me) names (Nacho!). I had to spend some time placing minor characters before I read on!
But, casting doubts aside, I ended up loving this short novel. The writing is unconventional, no quotation marks and lots of dashes. It alternates between first person narration and Blanca speaking directly to her mother. The writing is beautiful, concise, and so profound. If I allowed writing in my books, this one would be underlined and highlighted. There would be notes in the margins saying things like, "Yes, this is what I think but have been unable to express!" A well edited meditation on living, dying, mothers, and relationships. Highly recommended!...more
I love historical fiction based on the lives of real people, and after hearing it mentioned in a course on American Slavery have developed a particulaI love historical fiction based on the lives of real people, and after hearing it mentioned in a course on American Slavery have developed a particular interest in the Sally Hemings/Thomas Jefferson relationship. This novel, based on the life of Jefferson's eldest daughter, Martha Jefferson Randolph, nicknamed Patsy, is meticulously researched. At 575 pages, the novel is lengthy, and it took me extra long to read because I found something to Wikipedia in almost every chapter (Did that really happen? - and the answer was usually yes!)
My only criticism was that there was a bit of a chick lit feel to much of the story, not generally my favorite genre. If I were editing, I would remove much of the William Short romantic speculation, as the story is remarkable enough without it, and would broaden its appeal to a wider range of readers.
Still, I would heartily recommend this novel to those who like women's historical fiction, and will look forward to seeing what this dynamic duo authors next. Readers who enjoy this novel will probably also enjoy the works of Barbara Chase-Riboud, especially Sally Hemings and The President's Daughter....more
Anna, George (Georgianna), and Kate meet in college and become lifelong friends. Through event snippets at various points in time (not always revealedAnna, George (Georgianna), and Kate meet in college and become lifelong friends. Through event snippets at various points in time (not always revealed chronologically), we follow their tales over a 25-year period. Though the story is about women and about friendship, it is by no means an emotional tug-at-the heartstrings chick lit piece. I had read and enjoyed Lutz's Spellman series, but was a bit reluctant to dive in as girlfriend stories just aren't my cup of tea.
Lisa Lutz can balance humor with drama, action, and feelings like no other writer I've read. Her books are laugh-out-loud funny, but the humor is smart, and never comes at the expense of the story or cheapens it's worth. I've read some humorous novels and cozy mysteries where I've never really cared about the characters because the funny names and situations constantly serve as a reminder that the story is pretend. I grew to love George, Anna, and Kate and also, I would really like to hang out with them! My only complaint would be that the jumping timeline style of narration forced me to do a little more date math than I like to do while reading.