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The Invisible Mountain (Vintage Contemporaries) Paperback – August 10, 2010
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From the verdant hills of Rio de Janeiro to Evita Perón’s glittering Buenos Aires, from the haven of a corner butcher shop to the halls of the United States Embassy in Montevideo, this gripping novel—at once expansive and lush with detail—examines the intertwined fates of a continent and a family in upheaval. The Invisible Mountain is a deeply intimate exploration of the search for love and authenticity in the lives of three women, and a penetrating portrait of the small, tenacious nation of Uruguay, shaken by the gales of the twentieth century.
On the first day of the year 1900, a small town deep in the Uruguayan countryside gathers to witness a miracle—the mysterious reappearance of a lost infant, Pajarita—and unravel its portents for the century. Later, as a young woman in the capital city—Montevideo, brimming with growth and promise—Pajarita begins a lineage of fiercely independent women with her enamored husband, Ignazio, a young immigrant from Italy and the inheritor of both a talent for boat making and a latent, more sinister family trait. Their daughter, Eva, a fragile yet ferociously stubborn beauty intent on becoming a poet, overcomes an early, shattering betrayal to embark on a most unconventional path toward personal and artistic fulfillment. And Eva’s daughter, Salomé, awakening to both her sensuality and political convictions amid the violent turmoil of the late 1960s, finds herself dangerously attracted to a cadre of urban guerrilla rebels, despite the terrible consequences of such principled fearlessness.
Provocative, heartbreaking and ultimately life-affirming, The Invisible Mountain is a poignant celebration of the potency of familial love, the will to survive in the most hopeless of circumstances, and, above all, the fierce, fortifying connection between mother and daughter.A Q&A with Carolina De Robertis
(Photo © Joanne Chan)--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. The history of Uruguay through the 20th century sparks personal tragedies amid political intrigues and cultural upheavals in this enchanting, funny and heartbreaking debut novel. Three generations of women populate this sweeping saga: Pajarita, the miracle child who at the dawn of the new century disappears and then reappears in a tree, born twice, as the residents of her small town say; Eva, Pajarita's daughter, who suffers a cruel childhood and learns to spin her painful experiences into a new life of art and adventure as a poet; and Salomé, seduced by communism and nearly losing everything fighting for the cause she believes will save her country. This novel is beautifully written yet deliberate in its storytelling. It gains momentum as the women's lives spin increasingly out of control while Uruguay sinks into war, economic instability and revolution. An extraordinary first effort whose epic scope and deft handling reverberate with the deep pull of ancestry, the powerful influence of one's country and the sacrifices of reinvention. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The struggles of a nation in flux,a nation fighting to survive, and a nation faced with inner turmoil, mirror the struggles of three incredibly strong women, who,like Uruguay, will surmount the crises and prevail. This is a stellar debut novel by a gifted writer.
Eva loves words even from an early age, but her family is poor. At the age of ten, her father asks her to sacrifice her education so that she can work in a shoe shop and earn the money they so desperately need. Eva complies, but she is not treated well by the owner of the shoe shop. Her father, who is friendly with the shoe shop owner, chooses to believe his friend rather than his daughter, creating a family rift. It is not surprising that one day, Eva decides to leave. Through a chain of events, she finds a rich husband and has two children, Robertito and Salome, the third protagonist. By this time, she is living with her family in Buenos Aires. But it is now in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the time of Evita Peron, and the political situation becomes unstable. Eva and her family are forced to move back to Montevideo.
Salome grows up surrounded by her relatives from her mother's family in Montevideo, Uruguay, but again, political instability rears its ugly head, and Salome pays a very heavy price for choices that she made when she was a teenager. (You will have to read the novel to find out what they are).
This was such an interesting novel for someone like me who doesn't know hardly anything about Latin America, and enjoyed learning about it from three fascinating women. These women, and all that they had to endure from their menfolk and from society kept me turning the pages of a book. Carolina de Robertis is also an excellent stylist. There was some truly beautiful writing in this novel, powerful use of metaphor and simile. My favorite moment occurs when Ignazio, the young man from Venice who eventually marries Pajarita is sent by his grandfather to make something of himself:
"Listen, I have a little money in the floorboards and I'll send you to the New World if you swear you'll build something else, something useful over there, something worth building. Anything. Swear."
It broke, then, the canvas stretched over the world, and Ignazio was not numb, not in a painting at all: he stood in a raw, unfinished world, surrounded by the dead, exposing a fresh layer of living skin.
"I swear," he said.
What a wonderful way of describing someone's sudden understanding that actions have consequences. What a great way of evoking sudden maturity. Five stars.