Don't know whether I would have read this book had I not taken a Portuguese course as part of my continuing work on Portugal and the continuing influence of the Portuguese around the world. But this classic novel by a 19th century autodidact and grandson of a slave was required reading.
What a delight! The narrator is an old and crotchety member of the elite of Rio da Janeiro in the 1860s to 1880s. He expects us to take at face value his tale--of how he had been promised to the priesthood at birth, how he wiggled his way out of that, married his childhood sweetheart, became extremely successful and then had his world crash around him. We can't be sure he's telling the truth about his lifle, but the picture he paints of a fascinating and sophisticated society rings clear. This is a book that will entertain and inform. If you admire Othello, Ford Maddox Ford's The Good Soldier, Edith Wharton's tales of New York and Zola's compelling novels of France, you'll love this book.