Goodreads Synopsis: Salazar has just risen to power, and with an iron fist imposes order in the country. Government accounts arebalanced, Beatriz Costa animates the Parque Mayer, the PVED are a constant and silent threat. Louis is an idealistic student who begins to date the honey-eyed Amelia. The love between the two will, however, be severely tested by the objection of the girl’s mother, an unexpected murder and civil war in Spain. Through a story of a passion that defies the traditional values of conservative Portugal, this fascinating novel takes us to through the fire of the years in which the Estado Novo was forged. (apologies for my translation)
This book took me quite a while to get in to, but once it got going it was thoroughly entertaining. Firstly, I loved Santos’ ability to make the character’s voices come alive- you can hear their accents, imagine their movements and see them perfectly in your mind’s eye. Secondly the characters were realistic. They were not heroes- not much of what they do is noble or noteworthy, but it is real. Some of the characters are downright distasteful, but they are also completely human- and that is something quite unique to this book. Finally this book is excellent because of Santos’ portrayal of the fervor of youth mellowing into the reality of adulthood and the bitterness of the choices that life forces us to make. It’s a realistic Romeo and Juliet- a star-crossed lovers story with a large dose of reality and history to round it nicely off. All in all a great read.
Once again I feel a little guilty reviewing a book that doesn’t have an English translation, but it counts towards my challenge, so I hope you’ve enjoyed my review anyway.