A charming family tale of the Gusmao sisters—whose lives diverge and eventually come together again.
The Gusmao family lives in Rio de Janeiro in the 1940s. Euridice worships teenage Guida; Guida tolerates Euridice. Volatile Guida battles her parents until the night she sneaks off with her forbidden boyfriend and doesn't return. Devastated, Euridice mourns the loss; her parents’ emotions run the gamut until they write off their eldest. Life goes on, and Euridice marries a sensible choice to please her parents and leaves home to live a lonely life despite her husband and two children. Driven to distraction by boredom, she struggles to fill her days with projects other than cooking and maintaining the home, hiding such ventures from her traditional husband, Antenor, who repeatedly quashes her ambitions when he discovers all that she's hidden from him. Discouraged, a now passively resistant Euridice becomes a mere shadow in the background. Guida unexpectedly returns with her son and a wild tale of her broken relationship, and Euridice’s spirit fills with life once again. Batalha's well-rounded characters show how beliefs and decisions—whether acted on openly, as Guida does, or covertly like Euridice—affect their own lives and the lives of others. Batalha portrays the bleakness that can arise in marriage—not an absence of love as much as an absence of appreciating the other’s needs or, conversely, of sacrificing one's own needs. Be prepared to love invisible Euridice, who has so much more to offer than the confines of life in Rio allowed at the time. And be prepared to want to kick her in the butt and say, "Come on, woman! Don't give in!" She doesn't.
For those who enjoy delving into characters and love to watch life unfold for others, this thought-provoking tale will satisfy. A worthy debut for Batalha, full of wry humor.