The Vision of Elena Silves

The Vision of Elena Silves

by Nicholas Shakespeare
     
 

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In an Amazonian city, three old men sit remembering their youth. One day a woman hurries past their bench whom they all have reason to remember. Elena Colina Silves, the girl who saw a vision and was incarcerated by the church authorities.

Overview

In an Amazonian city, three old men sit remembering their youth. One day a woman hurries past their bench whom they all have reason to remember. Elena Colina Silves, the girl who saw a vision and was incarcerated by the church authorities.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
One might have thought that the tradition of a British observer romancing the jungles of South America ended with Graham Greene. But no: the lure of the unwashed still pulls, and cocaine trafficking conveniently provides a contemporary hook. The eponymous Elena Silves, born in 1948 in the city of Belen (``Peru's tropical gateway city and door to the mysterious Amazon'') has a vision of the Virgin Mary at age 17 while she is in hiding with Gabriel Rondon Lung--a half-Chinese, half-Portuguese Marxist. Shakespeare, literary editor of London's Daily Telegraph , exploits these two simplistic poles of the South American character--fervent Catholicism and political revolution--so much so that the real fates of his characters (Elena spends 18 years in a convent; Gabriel, the same amount of time in prison and on the run) are virtually passed over. Instead, the two rush to a breathless climax--lovers united at last--but far removed from a history that the author is attracted to, it seems, only as exotic backdrop. At a time when British writing is being hailed for its multicultural sensibilities--Rushdie, Kureishi, Ishiguro--this is a disappointing debut. ( Nov. )
Library Journal
This first novel has all the basic ingredients of a rough-and-tumble South American tale--a crooked bishop, a greedy mayor, sun-beaten town squares, suffocating jungles, and terrorists bubbling up everywhere. Thrown into the mix is an unusual love story between a revolutionary of Chinese descent (blond hair, blue eyes?) and a local girl who is blessed with a vision. The result is some fairly eclectic reading. The intended audience is not clear: the heroine's religious sighting appears 153 pages into the story; the love interest unfolds in fits and spurts until the final pages; and the overthrow of the Peruvian government by the Shining Path gets cursory treatment at best. If this summary sounds confusing, it is; buy if you think the combination of intrigue and smattering of social consciousness will appeal to your patrons.-- Sandra Collins, Trinity Episcopal Sch. for Ministry Lib., Ambridge, Pa.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780099466178
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/25/2005
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
5.12(w) x 7.81(h) x 0.75(d)

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