Great Big Travel Literature Giveaway prize today takes you to Bhutan. See bottom of post for details. CONTEST LONG GONE.
First Grand Prize Announced:Everyone who has entered the daily drawing has a chance at one of four grand prizes. The first: a $40 book crammed with information and pictures about the Americas. (Giveaway January 25–3 extra chances if you subscribe to A Traveler’s Library by e-mail.)
Book: The Invisible Mountain by Carolina de Robertis
The capitol of Uruguay-quick, do you know? Time’s up. Montevideo was named by an explorer who thought he saw a mountain. In The Invisible Mountain , Carolina de Robertis points out there is no mountain. And like the invisible mountain, parts of the lives of many of her characters are hidden.
This novel introduced me to a country I knew very little about, but the women in the novel face universal problems.
The first woman we meet, Pajarita, comes from peasant stock and her role as materfamilias holds together the growing family, despite economic struggles. Her mythical childhood prepares her for survival. When she marries she moves to the city. She has a rough life, but takes no nonsense from her husband who drinks and gambles too much. Practical knowledge learned in the countryside prepare her for a career.
Pajarita’s daughter, Eva, a poet and dreamer, runs off to neighbor Argentina during the reign of Peron, and influenced by the glamor or Eva Peron, marries into status and wealth. When the Peron rule turns dangerous and she returns to Uruguay, she has to come to terms with her family, and with her true love and sexual identification.
It is Eva’s daughter, Salomé, who completes the family story, and brings the story up to the present day. Her political activism moves from idealistic, romanticized notions to real dangers as Uruguay moves from being the model of democracy in South America to an increasingly oppressive dictatorship and eventually back to a democracy.
de Robertis includes the magical-realism of South and Central America, in the earlier sections of the book, but slips into more modern thought as the years pass. However she adds such poetic phrasing that sometimes whole pages become poetry. It is rare that a writer can pull off writing that appeals so strongly to our aesthetic appreciation and at the same time tell a coherent story. The Invisible Mountain is beautifully written but also a whopping good read. True and sexy and breath-takingly adventurous.
And it put Montevideo, Uruguay on my wish list of travel destinations.—-