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Cantoras

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4.38  ·  Rating details ·  4,854 ratings  ·  898 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
...more
Hardcover, 312 pages
Published September 3rd 2019 by Knopf Publishing Group
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Audrey Orenstein I think the book would be appropriate. In the book, two of the characters have their first experiences at young ages, and the details are glossed over…moreI think the book would be appropriate. In the book, two of the characters have their first experiences at young ages, and the details are glossed over.(less)

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Jen
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
...more
Elyse  Walters
This novel is magnificent!!!
....gorgeous!!!
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......
BUT......
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
...more
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
...more
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*
Joc
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
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Cheri
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
...more
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Another summer buddy read with my dear friend, Beth, and I don’t think we could have loved this more! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Beginning in the 1970s during the military dictatorship and oppression of Uruguay, five women come together to vacation on a rustic coastal peninsula. It’s so rustic, in fact, that they don’t have accommodations, and when they find a place to rest, it’s an old fishing hut. The women find magic in this place where they can truly be themselves for once.

Bonds of friendship are formed
...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
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
Jennifer
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.
...more
Lupita Reads
Jun 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Review coming soon but hands down top five favorite of this year!!!
Hsinju Chen
3rd read: Jul 3, 2021
Buddy reread again with Gabriella! This is our third read (yes), and there are still little details we noticed for the first time. The writing and story and imageries are just as beautiful, the characters just as complex and lovable. It feels warm to spend time with the cantoras again. Also, I cried again, but this time, from joy.

2nd read: Dec 21, 2020
For the audiobook review & 2nd read thoughts, see here.

1st read: Nov 19, 2020
Cantoras paperback, sea mist candle, and two tarot cards placed on a map of South America

“I think you know how to love.”


You know the
...more
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Another summer buddy read with my dear friend, Beth, and I don’t think we could have loved this more! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Beginning in the 1970s during the military dictatorship and oppression of Uruguay, five women come together to vacation on a rustic coastal peninsula. It’s so rustic, in fact, that they don’t have accommodations, and when they find a place to rest, it’s an old fishing hut. The women find magic in this place where they can truly be themselves for once.

Bonds of friendship are formed
...more
dianne
Mar 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 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
...more
Gabriella
content warnings: (view spoiler)

11/19/20 (initial thoughts): In my 22 years of being alive, I have never once cried over a piece of fiction until today. Carolina de Robertis has accomplished the impossible...

12/21/20 (second read):

"It seemed, at times, that this was the only way the world would be remade as the heroes had dreamed: one woman holds another woman, and she in turn lifts the world."



I initially wasn’t going to write
...more
Jamie
Jun 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
So I don't think anyone pays close enough attention to my reviews to notice how often I usually publish reviews, but I've definitely been in a reading slump recently. I'm usually someone that reads 3-5 books a week, but I've finished two in the last couple weeks. Just in the last week I've picked up and begun a half dozen books or so of various types and genres but none could hold my attention- and that's nothing on the books but on me! (It also hasn't helped that the Suns are making a playoff r ...more
Vanessa
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
Hsinju Chen
Audiobook Review & 2nd Read Thoughts

For a full review of the story, including content warnings, please read my first review on the paperback version.

“I feel that way too,” Malena said, reaching her palms toward the embers. “As if part of me won’t ever leave.”


These days, when I open my calendar app, it is almost always in 1977. Cantoras opened that year, and I find myself staring at the dates Paz, Flaca, Malena, Romina, and La Venus (in order of appearance) first visited Cabo Polonio, the wee
...more
JulesGP
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
Nadine in California
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
Jill
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
...more
Julie
I began to read Cantoras a couple of years ago, soon after its release, and stopped only a few pages in. Typically, I don't seek out books again after I've let them go — I trust my instincts that a read just isn't for me — but my instincts here told me Right book, wrong time. And so when I crossed paths again with Cantoras in the library last week, I felt it might be the time.

Here's to second chances. Cantoras seduced me with its stunning prose, its remarkable women, and its chilling reminders
...more
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
...more
Karen
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
Bill Khaemba
Feb 18, 2022 rated it really liked it
Yes! Now I need more books that follow a large cast of Queer women who create wholesome spaces to fully embrace themselves, each other and unpack deep complex emotional issues :-) Robertis effortlessly captured a part of Uruguay history through a queer lens and I gobbled it
Althea
4.5/5 Stars

I'm sure like many other readers, I was inspired to pick this book up thanks to the wonderful Hsinju and Gabriella who absolutely adored this book, and I finally picked it up this month!

The novel follows five queer women living in Uruguay in the 1970s, through the dictatorship, who find a sort of refuge in a small seaside hamlet where they can truly be themselves - cantoras, slang for sapphics at the time.

Carolina De Robertis' writing is so lush and gorgeous and really lends itself
...more
Lisa
Apr 25, 2022 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
Five women, all desperate for freedom to be themselves as queer women come alive in these pages. Flaca, Romina, Malena, Paz and La Venus each have unique struggles within their personal lives and with Uruguay's repressive dictatorship. Together they create a refuge. De Robertis skillfully weaves each woman's story into a novel that is hopeful without being simplistic. ...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
...more
Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)
Sep 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Will
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.
Abbie | ab_reads
I always find it difficult to write reviews for books I love the most! It's impossible to form coherent sentences for a book that lodged itself right in your very soul. I had a feeling I'd love this one but for some reason put off buying it - until @allegedlymari's post likening it to a glass of the finest wine. I don't like wine, but if this book WERE wine, I'd never drink anything else.
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Cantoras is set in Uruguay in 1977 under the military government and spanning decades. When I finished it I
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Shine & Shadow: Cantoras - Spoilers Galore 17 26 Sep 01, 2022 07:42AM  
Play Book Tag: Cantoras by Carolina de Robertis, 5 stars and ❤❤❤❤❤ 3 17 Jun 19, 2022 11:00PM  
Shine & Shadow: Cantoras - Initial Thoughts 19 24 Aug 28, 2021 05:18AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Please correct page count - Cantoras 2 19 Sep 15, 2019 03:26PM  

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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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There's something great about a paperback book: They're perfect book club choices, you can throw them in your bag and go, and they've been out in...
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“Why did life put so much inside a woman and then keep her confined to smallness?” 12 likes
“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.” 8 likes
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