Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Book Review - The Disappearance of Irene Dos Santos

Author: Margaret Mascarenhas

A story entwined around the vines of other stories, The Disappearance of Irene Dos Santos by Margaret Mascarenhas eludes the reader time and again.

Irene Dos Santos, fifteen, and her fifteen year old friend Lily are constant companions. There is, however, something about Irene that disquiets the well-bred Lily. On a family vacation outing to Maquiritare in Venezuela, Lily is allowed to choose one companion to accompany her. She chooses Irene. A few days into the vacation, Lily and Irene, both excellent swimmers, decide to swim from the beach to a close island. In the middle of the swim, constrained by the large lunch they have consumed, both girls realize they cannot make it. Lily assures Irene that she can do it, and suddenly the girls are in the midst of a screaming match that turns lethal.

Only one survives and the novel swirls and eddies in effluvial marshes of characters, dreams, the mythological goddess Maria Lonzia, revolutionaries and political upheaval in exotic Venezuela as a backdrop. Poetic and lyrical, the novel aspires to create an impressive array of metaphor, mysticism, and reality within the juxtaposition of 8 protagonists, each depicting their own stories of love, power, loss, ghosts, magic and their political convictions or lack thereof.

Powerfully adventurous in technique and style, intriguing and exotic in locale and history, this novel appeals to the sense like the passion flower that Mascarenhas uses metaphorically throughout the novel. The twist at the end, however, left me feeling disengaged.

This book would be of special interest to those who enjoy delving
into the culture, history and connections of the peoples of Venezuela.

Rating is based on a 5-star scale

Plot: 3.5 stars
Characters 4 stars
Presentation 4 stars
Overall 3.5 stars

This review was provided by Ava Rogers. Check out Ava and Zippy's site EXCLUSIVELY for reviews - The Review Broads.

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