Genre: Magic Realism, South American Literature
Narrative Style: A series of stories told by Eva to her lover
Synopsis: Eva’s lover demands that she tell him a story that she has never told anyone before. The stories mix the real and the fantastic and cover revenge, love, obsession and much more.
Reading Challenges: Alphabet Soup 2020 – Author Edition
It’s been a long time since I read Eva Luna – about 25 years as I was at university – but I remember that I really enjoyed it. I’m not sure why this book has languished on the shelf got quite so long. Possibly because I’m not a huge fan of short stories.
As you might expect, these stories slip easily between reality and fantasy. Ghosts and miracles happen in the same way that ordinary every day things happen. Allende’s prose is rich and poetic and the stories are not reigned in by the constraints of prose. They are poetic in their nature.
There are many themes touched on here but the main thing I came away with was the power of love in the face of the worst situations. There is something hopeful and encouraging about these stories even when they are talking about the worst atrocities committed by man.
My favourite stories are’ Two Words’ and ‘Our Secret.’ ‘Two Words’ which tells of Belisa Crepusculario who learns that she has power over words and uses this power to sell words to people. When she is kidnapped by the Colonel, he tells her he wants to be president. She sells him the words to say but also gives him a bonus ‘Two Words’ for his exclusive use. With these words, she binds the Colonel to her and he becomes unable to think of anyone else. ‘Our Secret’ tells the story of the story of a couple who cannot truly know each other until they have shared the secret traumas of their lives under the Chilean dictatorship.
Some of the stories are erotic like ‘Toad’s Mouth’ which tells of a Hermelinda and her erotic games or ‘Wicked Girl’ which tells of a young girl’s sexual awakening and the effect it has on her mother’s lover. Others, like the final story ‘And of Clay we are Created’ are tragic and sad. All are unusual and exciting.
My only problem is one with short story collections in general and that is I like to get my teeth into stories, get to know characters. Here, whenever I felt like I was interested in a character, the story changed.