The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao by Martha Batalha and Eric M B Becker (translator)
|The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao by Martha Batalha and Eric M B Becker (translator)|
|Category: Literary Fiction|
|Reviewer: Bethany Creamer|
|Summary: A darkly humorous family drama spanning eighty eventful years brimming with tensions that simmer unseen beneath the surface. The novel provides a compelling insight into the varying neighbourhoods of Rio de Janeiro and the class system then endemic in Brazil. An extremely well-executed debut by a very promising and talented writer indeed.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 240||Date: September 2017|
|Publisher: Oneworld Publications|
|External links: Author's website|
On the surface, young housewife Euridice Gusmao has it all. A nice-enough, parent-pleasing husband with a steady banking job, two young children upon whom to dote, an immaculate home complete with maid. That's all anyone could ever want, isn't it? Not Euridice. She has an inexplicable ache inside her for something more, like many of us. Yet each of her pet projects, from a desire to publish a recipe book to starting a cottage sewing industry in her living room, are met with scorn from her stern husband Antenor. He wants a wife who doesn't draw attention to herself, whose only domains are her house and her family.
One fateful day, Euridice's estranged elder sister Guida turns up at her door with a harrowing tale of years of mistreatment, and a young son to boot. It's like something from one of Euridice's beloved telenovelas. The pair have lead very different lives but are united by the shared experience of growing up lending a hand at the greengrocer's run by their Portuguese immigrant parents. In their own unique ways, they will prove to be each other's saving grace.
But this isn't just the tale of Euridice and her family, it also spans the lives and families of a vast array of secondary characters, such as Euridice's exceptionally bitter neighbour Zelia and Antonio, the caring owner of a stationery store who is completely smitten with both sisters. Through this diverse cast of characters, the reader catches a glimpse of all the echelons of Brazilian society at that time, from the impoverished toothless prostitutes to the decadent bourgeoisie, who believe that money will get them everywhere.
Batalha writes in a unique, darkly humorous style that despite its often-satirical tone, remains a realistic, vivid picture of life in a particular city at a particular time. The changing fortunes of her characters grasp the reader's attention, even when they are seemingly minor or trivial. The potentially life-changing circumstances, when they arise, do not seem too far-fetched and are handled with care. The novel does occasionally go off on various tangents but Batalha brings it back into focus with skill and relative ease. By the end of the novel, I was convinced that Euridice Gusmao could be any woman in her time and place, of her class but simultaneously that she was her own person, with a fierce sense of individuality of spirit that even her overbearing husband ultimately failed to quash.
Another compelling work of contemporary literary fiction is Crow Blue by Adriana Lisboa, who is another extremely talented female writer from Brazil. I highly recommend her work, particularly if you enjoyed The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao.
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You can read more book reviews or buy The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao by Martha Batalha and Eric M B Becker (translator) at Amazon.com.
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