SWEET COUNTRY by Caroline Richards


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Heavily propagandistic, this reenactment of the months immediately following the fall of Chile's Allende regime (and the takeover by the military junta) is powered by the stories of three women. Eva is a young former secretary to Mrs. Allende who now desperately seeks asylum in a foreign embassy in Santiago before she's again arrested and terribly tortured, as has already happened once. Her beautiful older sister Monica, once married to a chief Latin American terrorist, becomes reinvolved in a life of politics she doesn't really want--and serves as a meditational tool for Richards' political journalism, which often is pretty dull stuff. And then there's Anna Willing, wife of Dr. Ben, an idealistic American physician engaged before the junta in educational reform: Anna's position as an American makes her a good candidate for courier and friend to the resistance movement. First novelist Richards' commitment to the Allende era is clear: dialogue here almost always consists of groups of two, three, four, or more characters trading political analyses--actual fiction barely covers the zealous dialectics. Only the scenes of graphic, awful torture really work, stomach-turning as they are. Sweet Country Chile may be, and that whole period was undoubtedly a great dirty shame--but Richards' inability to give her subject the suppleness of art drops the book into the category of a long, fervent lecture.

Pub Date: Feb. 12th, 1978
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich