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“De Lope evokes his characters’ interior lives and their outer surroundings with equal beauty and intensity. This masterful novel is his first to be translated into English. Let’s hope there are more.” —Booklist
“…the American debut of a celebrated Spanish novelist reads rapturously…the prose...pulsates and palpitates.” —Kirkus Reviews
“De Lope is a masterly writer, constructing a shadowy architecture to house his expansive prose, intertwining plotlines, and themes of misfortune, solitude, and memory. Highly evocative of time and place, this resonant work will linger in readers’ minds. Recommended.” —Library Journal
“Reading The Wrong Blood is like surrendering to a hypnotist. Manuel DeLope’s subject is the fluidity of time and the pitilessness of war as played out in the lives of two women who quietly conspire to commit a victimless crime. The style is a marvel of precision and patience, resulting in an atmosphere so saturated with suspense that I found myself wanting to read more slowly, even as I breathlessly anticipated the next paragraph. I’ve seldom read a more sublime and disturbing novel.” —Valerie Martin, author of The Confessions of Edward Day
“The Wrong Blood is a prose-poem to the furtive compromises that mitigate grief, and allow human survival at desperate times. Written with elegant ambiguity: I loved it.” — Dave Boling, author of Guernica
“The Wrong Blood is a powerful novel suffused from beginning to end with a terrible, suppressed violence. Its chief virtue lies in showing us that war—every war—is like a distorting mirror: the soul never recovers from the monstrous vision reflected there.” — Mayra Montero, author of The Messenger and Dancing to “Almendra”
“Moving and harrowing…the reader has been stirred to the core.” —The Financial Times
“Amid the current outpouring of Civil War fiction in Spain, the books of Manuel de Lope and María Barbal…should be top of interested readers’ lists.” —The Independent
Even in translation, the American debut of a celebrated Spanish novelist reads rapturously.
Though novels are all about language, this one is even more so. The plot is a fairy-tale contrivance; the characters are kept at a psychological remove. Though the Spanish Civil War provides the key to the various intertwineddestinies, it serves as a distant backdrop. What asserts itself most strongly is the author's literary style—the paragraphs that compare in length with those of Henry James, the chronology that hop-scotches across decades and generations as filtered through the consciousness of various characters, the prose that pulsates and palpitates: "An obscene juice oozed from the leaf buds on the tree. The vulvas of the irises were bursting into wine-colored or striped flowers. The power of the black, awakening earth showed itself in a monstrous way. There was a catastrophic essence in that inexorable and tranquil explosion of spring." An essential mystery lies at the heart of the elemental plot, which concerns the lives of two very different young women whom fate brings together. One is María Antonia Etxarri, who works at her stepfather's bar and is raped at the age of 16 by a soldier. The other is Isabel Cruces, who is a few years older than María Antonia and is about to wed a soldier who will be leaving for the war. A rich man traveling to the wedding suffers a stroke at the bar and owes gratitude to María Antonia's family for caring for him. Flash forward a few decades and Isabel is dead, having left her fortune and mansion to María Antonia, who has become her faithful servant. Isabel's grandson arrives at the mansion to study for his law exams and spends some time with their neighbor, a crippled doctor. The doctor knows a secret concerning Isabel and María Antonia. The reader learns it.
Grand themes and extravagant prose trump any hint of literary realism.
Excerpted from The Wrong Blood by Manuel de Lope Copyright © 2010 by Manuel de Lope. Excerpted by permission.
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One The Wedding 1
Two The Honeymoon 65
Three The Stillborn Fruit 123
Four The Wrong Womb 205
Posted January 5, 2011
No text was provided for this review.
Posted January 23, 2011
No text was provided for this review.