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4.37  ·  Rating details ·  2,089 ratings  ·  419 reviews
From the highly acclaimed, award-winning author of The Gods of Tango, a revolutionary new novel about five wildly different women who, in the midst of the Uruguayan dictatorship, find one another as lovers, friends, and ultimately, family.

In 1977 Uruguay, a military government crushed political dissent with ruthless force. In this environment, where the everyday rights of
Hardcover, 312 pages
Published September 3rd 2019 by Knopf Publishing Group
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Average rating 4.37  · 
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 ·  2,089 ratings  ·  419 reviews

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Apr 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“Cantoras” the word meaning women who sing. Sing in the most passionate, emotional way. Sing in relationships with other females in a country that prohibits same sex relationships under the
oppressive militia rule in Uruguay, back in the 70’s.
A group of women who defy the odds and develop deep connections in a secret hut on the beach, to a bar years later when democracy has a chance to enter their world. But at a cost. Early on one of them hospitalized for her thoughts and behaviour. Tortured as
Elyse  Walters
Sep 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This novel is magnificent!!!
It’s ‘alive’, bursting with energy!

In Uruguay you could be arrested for just having five or more people in your house.

The regime did whatever it wanted regardless of the laws.

Women didn’t make sexual advances in the country of dictatorship......
Flaca, Romina, Anita, Paz, and Marlena did!!!

The women had seven full days of sunshine - no toilets and no husbands.

I wanted to stand up and sing, wiggle & jiggle... twirl.. and dance with these wom
Diane S ☔
Sep 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lor-2019
Freedom. In 1970s Uruguay,freedom was not to be found. Called the process, the country was under a brutal dictatorship, a system that cared little for innocence or guilt. A system that took, people, rights, joy and made them disappear. For the five women in this story this wasn't the only type of freedom not available to them, they also did not have the freedom to love whom they wanted. Their same sex desire must be kept hidden at all costs. They were Cantoras.

They find a place in an isolated co
Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd)
I’ve just spent this entire novel going back and forth between laughing and sobbing. It’s a triumph, a celebration and a shared mourning all in one.

TW: rape, abuse, homophobia, torture (conversion therapy, electroshock), imprisonment, suicide

*I was sent a free copy of this book by the publisher for review but all opinions are my own*
4.75 Stars

’The city, Montevideo, was not a place to be curious, but a place to shrink into yourself and mind your own business, to be careful, to jeep your curtains drawn, to keep your mouth shut with strangers because any one of them could report you to the government and then you could disappear, and you could see it in passersby on the street, the flattened gazes, the postures of fear so familiar that they’d become ordinary.’

Set in Uruguay, this story begins in the year 1977, under a dic
Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most beautiful books I’ve read in long time. It’s triumphant and devastating, it’s optimistic and heart-breaking, and then manages to cover just about every emotion in between. The story starts off in 1977 in Montevideo, Uruguay, where five women come together to form the beginnings of friendship. A week-long trip to Cabo Polonia, a small village on the coast north of Montevideo, connects them to each other and the village in a way that city living never could.

Of the five wome
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Sep 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Jenny (Reading Envy) by: because I can't resist
I was late to a scheduled podcast recording Sunday because I just had to finish this book first. It is beautifully written about five women living in Uruguay, building a found family to live as who they really are, despite dictators, trauma, and fear. Some of the story comes from research the author did on the first LGBTQ+ spaces in Uruguay, not in the city but on the very edge of the country between ocean and sand dunes. The five women in the novel buy a shack that becomes their escape. Each ch ...more
I can’t even. This novel is absolutely gorgeous.

A multifaceted look at oppression and its consequences, and five women who found freedom in each other.

My favorite quote:
“Why did life put so much inside a woman and then keep her confined to smallness?”

Audiobook narrated by the author, Carolina De Robertis.
Lupita Reads
Jun 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Review coming soon but hands down top five favorite of this year!!!
dianneOnRBG RIPmalaiseBreak
Mar 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: own, uruguay
What a plot! Five very different Lesbians living through the military dictatorship years of the 1970s and 80s in Uruguay, a country with less deaths and disappearances than Argentina, but a much higher percentage of imprisonment and torture. One of every 50 Uruguayans was tortured. So all of their friends, families and acquaintances got to live that, too.

Those fun facts aren’t in the book - just background.

This story mulls concepts of Family a lot. Given family (biologic, usually) versus created
Nov 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
Set in the late 70’s, five women bond over needing to escape the Uruguayan dictatorship, with the strict rules of the city, they decide to head to an isolated coastal town, a place with no electricity or running water with barely any walls a place of “no toilets and no telephones and no husbands” a place they can be free to be completely themselves. Five women who share a need to keep their queerness away from the city full of eyes where it’s considered illegal and considered a crime worthy of p ...more
Jun 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Cantoras is the second book that I’ve read by this author, The Gods of Tango being the first and that one took me two tries to finish because both stories are heavy reading. Cantoras, which is the Spanish word for female singers and old timey slang for Lesbians, is a telling of five women who discover each other the way women do, by a glance, certain body language, or via a few choice remarks. They’re very young and desperate to breathe and be who they imagine themselves to be. But this is the 1 ...more
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A novel written by a Uruguayan-born author inspired by five queer women who discovered a sanctuary on the coast in a sanctuary called Cabo Polonio doesn’t exactly have the best-seller label all over it.

But when the author is Carolina de Robertis – the author of the outstanding book Perla – and the women represent any one of us who yearn for a feeling of safety, home and family, the book cries out to be read.

For anyone who loves books that ask the question, “What does it take to be human?”, my a
Jessica Woodbury
A moving and original story of found family for a group of young, lesbian women in Uruguay under a dictatorship. Right away I was pulled into the story and struck by how unique it felt, this is the first time I've read De Robertis and I was immediately captivated. She expertly navigates how they struggle with the intersections of political and social oppression for their gender and their sexual orientation.

While they do not have an easy life and there is much struggle, most of this book didn't
Nov 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
There was much about this novel I liked at first - the five main characters felt so real and the intensity of their group friendship was moving, as was their struggle to be lesbian in a patriarchal society run by a ruthless dictatorship. But by the half way point I could no longer ignore that the lovely warmth I was feeling for the characters was too often generated by cliched, sappy writing. I wound up skimming the last half as a way to find out what happens to the characters without getting st ...more
Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)
An absolutely breathtaking narrative, truly special! This is a story about five women as they become friends, form relationships, and become chosen family along the way. Set against the backdrop of the Uruguayan dictatorship, this is part coming of age and part learning to thrive amidst a society that condemned their existence. Before they had the words to articulate their sexual identify, they gave themselves the name “Cantoras.”

I am immensely grateful to @lupita.reads for putting this beautifu
Sep 17, 2019 added it
4.5. I wavered between 4 and 5 stars; I could have easily rounded up as down. Compassionate and moving - hopefully, a full review later.
Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is fabulous and I learned so much by reading it. This historical fiction is about 5 queer women ( Flaca, Romina, Anita - La Venus, Malenia and Paz) who meet under various situations and decide to travel to this beach called Cabo Polonio. This beach becomes there refuge during a volatile time in Uruguay. Over the course of many years (teens to older adults), they see things change not only in Uruguay but on the beach they claimed as their own in early adulthood. Lovers come and go, but ...more
Gaby LezReviewBooks
I admit that I had this lesbian historical fiction audiobook on my list to listen for a good while but I couldn’t find the right frame of mind to enjoy it. I knew it wasn’t an easy listening plus I’m not a fan of authors narrating a book as they normally aren’t professionally trained. I finally decided to give it a try and I’m really happy that I did.

‘Cantoras’ follows the story of five lesbian friends in Uruguay from the late 1970s for a period of over 35 years. These five women – “cantoras” (m
Robert Sheard
Jul 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this one quite a bit, especially the first and last thirds. (The middle dragged a little for me.)

It's a fascinating story, five gay women in Uruguay in the 1970s and 1980s as the country deals with a dictatorship and a return to democracy.

If I have any quibbles, there are a couple of instances of insta-love, which I always bristle at, and the ready willingness of some of the women to cheat on long-term partners after catching "that one glance" that leads to a new affair. But on the who
Jul 27, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: recent-reads
A group of women in Uruguay forge a way for themselves in a country that is embracing a dictatorship and increasingly critical government. The concern for these women is that they are lesbians in a country that shuns anything that is different from the norm. They are expected ed to marry and have kids and be happy.

We get the story over a span of thirty years. The story begins in the late 1970's and takes us to a final chapter that takes place in the 2000's.

I think the idea is that we are getti
switterbug (Betsey)
Jun 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I remember the days, here in the U.S., where being gay meant being ostracized, and most people kept it a secret, much to the disadvantage of their psychological health. There are still some corners of America that remain in the Dark Ages, despite the new laws allowing gay people to marry. But in Uruguay, during the fascist dictatorship of the 70s, coming out of the closet meant getting arrested, tortured, sexually violated, and often “disappeared.” And women couldn’t gather more than four togeth ...more
The novel is set during the late 1970's-mid 1980's when the South American country of Uruguay was ruled by a military junta. During the same time period, and beginning and enduring for different lengths of time, there were dictatorships in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Paraguay. I chastised myself for not being aware of this time period in Uruguay, particularly because I lived in the southern-most state in Brazil in 1999, bordering on Uruguay, and I am a great admirer of the Uruguayan journalist ...more
Aug 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

Set in Uruguay, this beautiful yet incredibly heartbreaking story follows five protagonists, growing up & living as queer women during a dictatorship.
It’s the kind of book that mostly focuses on characters - that’s what I like in my books - & these five women & their stories grabbed my interest from the start.

It was an intense journey, definitely not an easy one, but I’m so glad De Robertis decided to tell this story.
Penny (Literary Hoarders)
I clearly have read an entirely different book from what others have read. There is A Lot of love for Cantoras here, but I just never felt that kind of love for it at all. There were factors as to why, but I'm just going to say this didn't capture me the way it has so many others. At least I'm in the vast minority with my opinion!
Jun 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
She's done it again, folks 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼
Alison Hardtmann
Nov 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library-book
You know the kind of book where you forget that you're reading words on a page and all of a sudden it's much later than you'd wanted to stay up? This is that kind of novel. Set in Uruguay during the civic-military regime during the seventies and eighties, when Uruguayans lived under constant surveillance and danger of arrest, the novel follows a group of queer women who find a haven of sorts in an isolated beach community. For a few days or a week at a time, they can live authentically, although ...more
Karen (idleutopia_reads)
Aug 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I don’t have the book in front of me so this is all coming from memories and feelings I still have for this book. It’s been a few weeks and I miss Paz, Flaca, Romina, Malena, La Venus, and Cabo Polonio so much. It truly feels like I left part of myself on the pages of this book and there is a part of them that have left an indelible mark. The book starts with a trip to this island that changes and forges a friendship that will last ages. The writing of this book is so atmospheric. It truly made ...more
All my reading groups were of course cancelled and postponed this month, so that gives me time for more reviews. This book was the pick of The Tiny Book Club, though we have yet to meet.

Three years ago I read this author's wonderful The Gods of Tango. I loved Cantoras just as much. It covers 36 years of life in Uruguay, from 1977 to 2013. The story opens during the years of rule by a military government. The crushing of all dissent, the curfews, the fear of being "disappeared," the deadness of
Mary Lins
Jun 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: complete
“Cantoras” by Carolina De Robertis, brings us the story of five women; lesbians (“cantoras”) and bisexual : Flaca, Romina, Anita (La Venus), Paz, and Malena, in Uruguay in the 1970s and 80s as the country struggles under a brutal dictatorship. It’s a story of long-term friendships and how they change/don’t change over time.

The novel begins with the five women camping on a beach on a remote peninsula called Cabo Polonio, which is a real place (photographed on the cover) that later became a haven
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Carolina De Robertis is the author of Perla and The Invisible Mountain, which was an international bestseller translated into fifteen languages, the recipient of Italy’s Rhegium Julii Prize, and a Best Book of 2009 according to the San Francisco Chronicle, O, The Oprah Magazine, and BookList. She is the translator of Alejandro Zambra’s Bonsai, which was just made into a feature film, and Roberto A ...more

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“Maybe everyone bore the wounds, no matter what had or hadn't happened to them; maybe they were all part of the same vast, bruised body in the shape of a nation. A body groping for the slightest illusions of safety.” 4 likes
“Why did life put so much inside a woman and then keep her confined to smallness?” 3 likes
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