El gran teatro, by Manuel Mujica Láinez

1198569Approximate translation: The great theater

I never read anything from “Manucho” that I didn’t utterly love.

The great theater which the title refers to is the Colón (one of the top 5 opera houses in the world, for its size, acoustics and history, according to Wikipedia, of course), the scenery for this novel, which is structured like an opera: overture, first act, first intermission, second act, etc. Everybody who is somebody is that night there, for the premiere of Parsifal, but few of them are actually there to hear Wagner. The author describes in a very lucid and charming style the high society of the thirties in Buenos Aires, with families divided from decades, social climbing, picturesque characters, romantic affairs, delusions of grandeur, hidden homosexuality, bankruptcy and every possible ingredient. How everybody moves and talks, from the college students in the cheaper seats, to the great names in the boxes, and the violinist with honey hair. And everybody is expectant for the next grand amusement: Bebe’s ball. Few are invited, and the rest is desperately seeking for an invitation.

I’m always out of words when I have to talk about anything written by Mujica Láinez. I guess I’m just glad that I was born in the same country that he did, that he wrote in the same language I speak and that I was able to know his fantastic works.

Taivaankantaja, by Riika Pelo

tapa20sola-b9285e8a5cc50320217f4a918033cf82-1024-1024Approximate translation (from the Spanish title, because I don’t speak Finnish): Sky carrier

This book was a gift from a friend for my birthday. I know it’s hard to gift books to someone that reads a lot (been there, done that), and she really nailed it with this one. The sure way to do it is looking where no one would. This book is off canon. At least for me, because it’s the first time I read something written by a Finnish author. And, I suspect, this author, despite her nationality, must be quite unique. At least, the story and her style are different from anything I’ve read before.

The story is about Vendla, a young girl that lives with her very old grandmother in a farm. She lives in constant contact with nature, and barely relates with other people. The farm they live in got (in)famous in the country because their cows died of hunger (“in these times! In this country!”). Because of this, some relatives that never cared about them before decided they’ll be Vendla’s tutors, in order to protect her and civilize her in their religious community.
And then things go a little out of hands (for them, not Vendla).

 After I read this it made me vaguely remember the movie Tideland. A couple of days ago I saw the movie again and no, it has nothing to do with it. I guess if they have anything in common is that both portrayed very particular little girls, living in their own special worlds, that doesn’t difference very well between reality and imagination.

Death comes to Pemberley, by P. D. James


14094970This is a fan fiction that got big. The author takes the characters from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, some years after the ending of that book. Both Jane and Elizabeth are still happily married and have formed a lovely family. As every year, Elizabeth is in charge of a big ball at Pemberley, but this one doesn’t take place. The night before the event, Lydia, Elizabeth’s younger sister, arrived at Pemberley in a shock state clamoring that his husband, George Wickham, might be dead in the forest. It turns out that Wickham was still alive, but gets suspected of his friend’s murder. The rest of the book is, basically, like any other mystery novel, trying to find out if Wickham is or isn’t the murderer.

I guess I didn’t have any expectations about this book. I’m a big fan of Austen, so at first was a bit shocking reading about these beloved characters in a style that’s not like hers, but the overall result is quite positive.

There is a beautiful TV adaptation that I highly recommend.