Wednesday, 7 February 2018

The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao by Martha Batalha

The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao by Martha Batalha
Translator: Eric M. B. Becker
Publisher: Oneworld
Source: Publisher (physical reading copy & digital ARC)
Pages: 230

Euridice is young, beautiful and ambitious. She sacrifices her own aspirations to marry Antenor, spending her days ironing his shirts and removing the lumps of onion from his food. But as his professional success grows, so does Euridice’s feeling of restlessness. Casting duty aside, she embarks on various secret projects, only to have each dream crushed in turn by her tradition-loving husband. Antenor eventually restores order in his household – until the day Euridice’s long-lost sister Guida appears at the door with a young child and a terrible story.

The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao is a darkly comic portrait of two sisters who assert their independence and courageously carve a path of their own. A truly unforgettable novel from one of the most exciting new voices in world literature.

Martha Batalha studied journalism and literature in Brazil, working first as a reporter before starting her own publishing company. The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao is her first novel. Martha lives in Santa Monica, California, with her husband and two children.

My Thoughts
Stunning bright, zesty and energetic...If ever a cover promises a lively bunch of characters within its pages then this one does its job.

Martha Batalha as her debut novel has written a heartwarming tale, drawing heavily from her family background, about the lives of two sisters living in Brazil over three decades from the 1940’s through to the revolution in the 1960’s.  Bringing this story to life is a sparkling cast of diverse, complex characters, both men and women who often flawed are shadowed by difficult, and at times awfully grim circumstances. Making this story of substance anything but a heavy read is the easy and engaging writing style full of warmth, humanity, humour and wit that flows effortlessly throughout.  Batalha skilfully presents the reader with an intelligent, culturally informative and thoroughly enjoyable reading experience.

Euridice a dutiful wife, caring mother, and inspirational woman of her time oozes with charm, compassion and a ceaseless creative drive. All of which is quite an achievement when you meet her husband, Antenor who provides such negative support.

‘It was a simple ceremony, followed by a simple reception, followed by a complicated honeymoon. There was no blood on the sheets, and Antenor grew suspicious.’
‘...Antenor decided there was no need to take his wife back to her family. She knew how to make the bits of onion disappear, she washed and ironed well, seldom spoke, and had a terrific rear.”

You will also encounter the spinster Zélia a spiteful vengeful woman damaged by life’s injustices who delights in gossip and thrives on the misfortune of others.

‘Since she couldn't be the Holy Spirit, Zélia contented herself with a lower post, proclaiming herself prophet...That one there is going to drag her husband into bankruptcy, she decreed with her pointy chin.’

TILoEG’s pages are crowded with such huge personalities, so believable and full of presence and life that the pages must have struggled to contain them within. Batalha’s characters, especially the women will remain in my thoughts for some time.

The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao would make an ideal choice for a book group read, funny, heartbreaking with plenty to discuss from a cultural, historical, and women’s struggle for independence (from within and outside of the family) perspectives.

A delightfully engaging and satisfying read beautifully translated by Eric M. B. Becker.  I loved every moment of TILoEG and so eager to share the delight of this sparkling debut with whomever I can.

No comments: