This book was launched in Spain in 2010 and it became very popular (I’m sure the colourful cover helped a lot); my father gave it to me for Christmas that year, so now it was time to read it; and it is also one of the books of my “to be read pile challenge”. I have read that it will be published in the US in June this year.
A family made up only of women lives in a little village in Castilla; their surname is Laguna and they have been cursed since years ago, so they will never be successful in love and they will give birth to more bastard daughters, always girls. Clara Laguna is a young beautiful woman who falls in love with an Andalusian landowner, who is in the village to haunt. He also likes Clara so she thinks the curse is over now and they spend a wonderful time together, but in the end he leaves the village, leaves Clara pregnant but at least he buys her a big house where she decides to open a brothel. Business is good for Clara, but she has another daughter, and later her daughter will have another girl by a man that also disappears. The curse continues for six generations of Laguna women until Santiago Laguna is born in 1960s.
This is a family saga of only women, full of magic realism from the beginning to the end. The characters are cursed, the weather is explosive when something happens, there are tragic deaths and overgrown of plants in Laguna’s house, smells from the dead in every room, etc., and the writing is full of metaphors about nature, feelings and behaviors, so if you don’t like this kind of magic realism, don’t read the book.
There is not a main character because everything happens very fast – we have 6 generations in 400 pages – so we can´t say that nothing happens, just that nothing in particular happens, but perhaps Olvido Laguna, Santiago’s grandmother, has more importance in the story since it slows down when she is born. She is a beautiful girl, like all the Laguna women, so her mother, trying to avoid the curse, doesn’t let her go outside the house, and if she needs to go to school or to church, the woman always covers Olvido’s face and body with strange hats and dresses. But, as always happens in the Laguna family, she will have a daughter and her daughter will be the first Laguna that will have a son.
I found the story a little bit long: Santiago isn’t born until the middle of the book, and the story before him is repetitive so the reader feels fed up with all the deaths and supernatural events, and the magic realism in general, because it doesn’t contribute anything interesting to the story. In addition, I never thought the story was taking place in Castilla because all those things seemed Latin American; perhaps this is because the previous books of this genre that I’ve read were all written by South American authors (Isabel Allende, Ángela Becerra, Ana Cabrera Vivanco) and set there too, and also the tropical pictures on the cover make you think that.
Summarizing, this is an entertaining story from the middle of the book that would be better without so many pages.
My review in Spanish hereTo be read pile challenge: 1/12 25 authors whose mother language is Spanish: 7/25