Linda's Reviews > Purgatory

Purgatory by Tomás Eloy Martínez
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's review
Nov 03, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: first-reads, gave-away, novel-serious
Read in November, 2012

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads - thank you to the publisher for sending the book to me. Wow, that was different. This isn't a book I would have normally picked up, had I not seen it on Goodreads. I read the book description and it sounded interesting; and entered the contest on First Reads. I'm glad that it caught my attention and glad that I was given a chance to read it.
The story kept going back and forth in time, and occasionally had me really confused because I wasn't sure if things were really happening or not. After I'd read about half of the book, I read a few of the other reviews (which I don't normally do until I'm done reading a book) and it gave me additional insight into the book and helped me understand a few things. The book was not easy to read - emotionally, I mean. The book starts out telling about Emilie, who is from Argentina and her husband, Simon, who had disappeared during political unrest 30 years earlier, and he suddenly reappeared. Except she had aged in a normal way, but he looked exactly as he had the last time she saw him. I wondered if he was a ghost, or part of a dream she kept having because the way he interacted with her seemed really odd. Then it goes back in time and talks about how they first met and their first few dates and their sex life. They had sex pretty frequently, but it sounded very unsatisfying, a kind of prelude to the rest of Emilie's life.

Emilie's father was horrible excuse for a human, and what made it even worse was that he was a father of two girls. Although I don't know if it would have been better if his children were boys either. Their mother seemed to just follow his lead and didn't help the girls by protecting them from him and his bullying. He wanted to rule their lives and he was constantly worried about how his wife and children's actions would reflect on him. Since he didn't approve of Emilie's choice of a husband, I wondered if he'd made Simon disappear. Emilie was really attached to Simon, and pretty much lost the will the live after he disappeared. She basically just went through the motions of living after it happened. Alhtough she did travel all over the world searching for him, chasing a ghost.

All in all, it was a very interesting story. The author gave the reader a taste of what it must have been like for the citizens of Argentina in the 1980's. And leaves us with many questions, one of which was did Emilie even exist at all? In the last chapter, he writes from the author's perspective and he aludes to this.

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05/24/2012 page 15
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