The House of Impossible Loves

Cristina López Barrio, trans. from the Spanish by Lisa Carter. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25 (336p) ISBN 978-0-547-66119-3
In YA writer Barrio’s fantastical debut adult novel (after The Man Who Grew Dizzy with the Earth’s Rotation), Clara Laguna—the latest in a long line of “cursed” Laguna women whose tragic affairs result in daughters born to follow in their mothers’ footsteps—plots revenge on the young Andalusian landowner who loved and left her. Her revenge: to transform the estate he leaves her into a brothel, the Scarlet House, where she lives with her blind mother, known as the Laguna witch, and a bearded, mute female cook. They attract the attention of the local priest, who hopes to convert Clara. He baptizes her daughter, Manuela, but loses the larger battle when the girl joins her mother in the family business. When her own daughter, Olvido, is born, Manuela vows to change her family’s reputation, setting fire to the house and fighting the family curse for years—sowing the seeds for the first Laguna boy, Santiago, Clara’s great-great grandson. Spanning the 19th and 20th centuries in Spain, Barrio’s story combines the timeless quality of a fable with the fully imagined emotional force of a modern novel. Characters that alone might feel overly simple, together bring to the novel the embroidered richness of a family saga told and retold across generations. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/08/2013
Release date: 06/04/2013
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 476 pages - 978-0-307-88225-7
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-0-547-66121-6
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