Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Book Review: The Invisible Mountain by Carolina De Robertis

The Invisible MountainThe Invisible Mountain by Carolina De Robertis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Carolina de Robertis writes a powerful novel about three generations of women. Interweaving magical realism with the real history of Uruguay and Argentina, De Robertis constructs a largely successful family saga full of emotion-cahrged moments that left me with literal tears running down my face.

The book is divided in the three stories it tells. It starts at the turn of the century with the story of Pajarita whose fantastical tale of rebirth imbues the book with a good dose of magical realism. I love magical realism and its effect in Hispanic Literature. Pajarita is the character with fantastical origins and magical gifts. She is the matriarch of the family and her story presents the backdrop for the rest of the novel. Pajarita disappears when she is born and is then later found (days, months?) later on top of a tree, as if she has fallen from the sky. Once grown, and married, she moves to Montevideo, taking with her the magic that surrounded her origins, bringing a little of the old traditions with her. Lots of symbolism there.

Eva is Pajarita's daughter and her story is mixed with that of Argentina's during the Perón administration. Her story is one of self discovery and pain, of struggle and success, and of poetry. Eva's story is full of poetry, of lyricism and words. We then move on to Salomé, Eva's daughter. The political unrest of Uruguay (and the dictatorship) during the 60s and 70s drives the story of Salomé and her struggle.

I loved this book. It is beautifully written, despite its dark themes and horrible events. The beautifully styled language and carefully woven words drew me into the book. I loved and hated the stories of these strong women. The horrible and gritty events brought back the stark reality of the era into focus. De Robertis did history justice by not shying away from the horrible details.

The novel starts with a fantastical event and the story becomes more entrenched in reality as time passes, focusing on the realities of political unrest, war, torture and pain. It leaves behind the past, the magic, the native culture and explores the adulterating effects of power on a nation. It explores the strength of women and the fallacy of man. It also explores idealism, politics, and several other fascinating themes.

If you like the magical realism and sagas of Marquez or Allende, you will like this book. I did.

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