Empty Wardrobes

Maria Judite de Carvalho, trans. from the Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa. Two Lines, $14.96 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-1-949641-21-9
Portuguese writer de Carvalho’s sharp 1966 novel follows three women through an oppressive Catholic society. Dora Rosário, a widow in her late 30s, still mourns her husband, Duarte, who died a decade earlier. She confides to the narrator, Manuela, an old friend of Duarte’s, about her grief, leaving Manuela to convey Dora’s story secondhand—with her own occasional fabrications sprinkled in. Dora has kept to herself, raising her daughter, Lisa, now 17, and dealing with the interference of Duarte’s mother, Ana. Duarte left them no money, so Dora took a job at an antique store where she’s worked for many years. One day Ana reveals a terrible secret, changing Dora’s vision of her husband as a “Christ” and releasing her from her grief. Manuela’s lover Ernesto then comes to the antique store to buy a rug, but instead becomes interested in Dora. They go for a car ride, ending in a wreck that leaves Dora’s face permanently scarred. The story concludes with a startling outcome that serves as a critique of a society that only values women for their youth and beauty. It’s a bit didactic, but de Carvalho (1921–1998) complicates things with Manuela’s unreliable narration and internalized misogyny. This unearthed story leaves readers with much to chew on. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 09/27/2021
Release date: 10/01/2021
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-949641-22-6
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