Originally posted Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Carolina de Robertis writes with a passion as deep and intense as the tango, the thread that holds so much of South America together. The Invisible Mountain is a lyrical narrative on the tides of life in Uruguay throughout the twentieth century. As symbolic as the traditional shared cup or gourd of mate, Ms. de Robertis has a unique talent that embraces everything within the lives of three generations of women and their families. She conveys imagination and imagery exquisitely.
The novel begins with the introduction of the main characters' origins prior to 1900 to set the background for the story to come. A young man escaping a brutal life in Italy, and an infant girl whose mother dies in childbirth and is blamed by her father for the death. A miracle happens New Years Eve at the turn of the century which saves her life. From this point on the real story begins. This is the first generation, and the baby, Pajarita, will become the glue that binds the generations.
The book is divided in three sections: Pajarita, Eva, and Salome. Separate yet intertwined, these three women, grandmother, mother, and daughter, live through the turbulence of coups, revolutions, despair, hope, passion, and always the rhythm of life and country. Three very distinct women. Pajarita keeps her family fed when her husband disappears by selling the herbs and treatments she has learned at the local butcher shop, along with her personality and advice. Though set primarily in Montevideo, Uruguay, Eva, a poet, moves and marries in Buenos Aires, Argentina in the regime of Peron, before fleeing with her husband and family in the night back to Uruguay. Salome, in her teens, wants nothing more than to save her country and becomes a Tupamaro, a revolutionist.
This book is inspirational, historical, powerful and passionate. I became deeply invested in it, even feeling the music running through the background as if to say I am here, I will not be forgotten. Listen. Feel.