“The Invisible Mountain” by Carolina de Robertis starts off with a miracle. In the first day of the twentieth century a baby girl, who disappeared from a village after her mother died giving birth to her, was found on top of a tree, that little girl is named Pajarita (Little Bird) and thus the story begins.
- 384 pages
- ISBN-13 : 978-0307271631
- Publisher : Knopf
- Language: English
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The fictional narrative spans 90 years or so, following the lives of Pajarita, her daughter Eva and granddaughter (Eva’s daughter) Salomé and follows the women through a personal story which also mirrors the chaotic history of Uruguay through their own personal struggles.
The book is divided into three sections, each devoted to one of the women. The first section we learn about Pajarita, how she met her husband, an Italian immigrant, and follows him from her small village to Montevideo and builds a life for them.
The second section tells us about Pajarita’s daughter, Eva, a poet at heart who was forced to drop out of school at the tender age of 10 and work at a shoe store for a family friend. Eva is abused by the friend and takes matters into her own hands by running away to Buenos Aires where she marries and has children before being chased out of Argentina and returning to Montevideo. The third section belongs to Salomé, Eva’s daughter, who is encouraged to fulfill the education her mother never got. However Salomé becomes involved in the political turmoil of the time and pays a heavy price for her ideals.
The story is not a simple good vs. evil, the characters are flushed out, each has his or hers good side and bad side – shades of gray. The heroines of the story are not depicted as “holier than thou” victims of a cruel life but as normal humans with their own weaknesses, strengths and different sides which take shape throughout their lives.
The narrative is complex and beautifully written, very lyrical, deliberate and effective, the storytelling is masterful and the characters are well drawn out – even the minor character each has their own rich history.
One of the most important characters in the “The Invisible Mountain” is not a human, but a country. Carolina de Robertis did a masterful job researching Uruguay, its culture and history. Besides enjoying the story I also felt I learned a lot about this South American country and have gotten a good introduction to its history.
Zohar — Man of la Book
Disclaimer: I borrowed this book from the local library
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