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Thursday Night Widows Paperback – January 1, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Near the start of Piñeiro's clever U.S. debut, which won Argentina's Clarin Prize for fiction and has been made into a film, the bodies of three well-to-do men—El Tano Scaglia, Martín Urovich and Gustavo Masotta—turn up in the Scaglias' swimming pool in Cascades Heights, a gated community outside Buenos Aires. The three men, along with Ronie Guevara, regularly had dinner on Thursday nights at one of their houses in this exclusive enclave. The search for the truth behind their deaths takes a backseat to the soap operaish goings-on of the Cascade Heights set, as seen in flashbacks largely through the eyes of Guevara's realtor wife, Virginia. Readers with an interest in contemporary Argentina will appreciate how this crime novel illuminates the hypocrisies of the country's upper classes after 9/11. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
In an exclusive gated community 30 miles outside of Buenos Aires, Maria Virginia works as a real-estate agent after her husband loses his job. Readers gradually become acquainted with the rich families of the Heights through Maria, who is privy to their secrets, selling them their homes while living in the community herself. But she is always a bit of an outsider, one of the few women who work, and when the bodies of three of the most prominent men in the community are found dead in a neighbor’s backyard pool, she must decide where her loyalties lie, since her husband was visiting the three men shortly before their deaths. A fast-paced thriller, Pineiro’s novel describes and critiques the lifestyles of Argentina’s nouveau riche, chronicling their rise into the exclusive world of the Heights and their downfalls as the economy sours after 9/11. An excellent choice for fans of international crime stories. --Jessica Moyer
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Top Customer Reviews
Since there was no police or detective involved in this story, the atmosphere and lives of these people was the only clue and build up to the deaths. Much emphasis was on the declining wealth of the affluent after the 9/11 attack in America, which was on the same day as Teacher's Day in Argentina. There was also great emphasis on the exclusivity of this gather community, that pretty much had everything anyone would need within it so that people rarely left those environs. Everything was planned for security and everything had strict rules. Not your average gated community.
I have mixed feelings about this book which seemed more like a novel than a mystery. The life and attitudes of a different culture was very interesting, especially how much happenings in America affected this country. Also , the differences in the class structure almost seemed forced and I wonder if this was a little bit like the science fiction of "Stepford Wives". Different but interesting. I would say that it wasn't my favorite read, but it definitely keep me involved in the story right up until the end.
The novel begins on Thursday night, September 27, 2001, when Teresa Scaglia returns home and doesn't hear any noise from the card room or pool. She soon discovers that El Tano and two of his friends are dead. Using Virginia Guevara, a real estate agent who also lives in the compound, as the primary narrator, the author dissects the lives of these characters in the ten years leading up to this September, 2001 event, skewering their pretenses, their blatant dishonesty, their flouting of the law, and their feeling of entitlement. Recent years have been marked by a severe economic downturn in Argentina, however. As Virginia says: "Many of our neighbors made the mistake of thinking that they could keep spending as much as they earned forever. And what they earned was a lot, and seemed eternal. But there comes a day when the taps are turned off."
With her tongue firmly set in her cheek, the author creates a story filled with dark ironies, and by making their problems similar to those of any other self-protecting, upscale suburban community, regardless of country, she succeeds in creating identification between the outrageous characters and her readers. These characters' lives are just close enough to the norm that they seem in many ways "ordinary," their behavior, however extreme, common enough that it is easily recognizable for what it is. Their casual dishonesty is a given. Because they are extreme stereotypes, they are laughable.
By the time the reader discovers how the men have died, that revelation comes as no surprise. Interesting for its picture of the effects of a global economic downturn on one community of wealthy businessmen, it is also an unforgettable picture of the empty lives which these men and their wives are happy to lead-the "causes" they adopt which accomplish nothing, their view of reality which is limited to their own social class, the inability to communicate with anyone because their individual lives are so egocentric. Great fun to read and often darkly humorous, this novel is a clear and uncomplicated social commentary which readers from many parts of the world may enjoy. Mary Whipple
You never have to lock your doors. Criminals can't get past the perimeter wall and armed security guards. And with all the regulation flowering bushes, the air is overwhelmingly sweet in every season. Argentina is suffering from the post-9/11 economic crisis, but the residents of Cascade Heights can feel perfectly safe.
Nonetheless, the book opens with three dead bodies floating at the bottom of a swimming pool.
The Cascade (for short) may be a paradise on earth - but not to wives who can't make friends, husbands who can't keep their jobs and children who don't fit the mold.
The turnover in luxury homes is one indication of trouble. But at least it's a plus for real estate agent Virginia Guevara. Through her own efforts Virginia manages to hang onto her lovely home, despite an unemployed husband, while other less fortunate residents come and go.
We see the dramas going on inside various homes in this book, but I won't give away any of that - or the mystery surrounding the main drama, and the ethical dilemma it raises.
Thursday Night Widows is flawless social satire - as well as an entertaining read. It's an excursion into a way of life that's totally foreign (to me, anyway). And it goes beyond any particular economic crisis to grapple with the basic insecurity of the human condition.
Claudia Piñeiro has written several books, but this is the only one available in English. I'm hoping a translator is at work on the others.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Starting with three bodies at the bottom of a pool, I thought I was settling into a murder mystery. I was wrong.Read more