A witty and passionate woman, recently bereaved, goes to the beach.
“It’s my mother’s funeral, and if that’s not bad enough, I’m forty,” says Blanca in the opening paragraph of Busquets’ summery, sexy, cool debut novel, set in the author’s native Spain. “I swear I’ve never dressed so badly in my entire life.” A couple of pages later, lying in bed with one of her exes, she decides to go recover at the house she’s inherited in the coastal town of Cadaqués, a place she’s been visiting since she was a girl. “The red earth of Tara, I’ll go home to Tara,” she deadpans, then wonders if she's mixed up ET and Gone with the Wind. Still trying to cure death with sex, she next meets up with her married lover. She’s tried and failed to make her body a temple, she explains; it “always remains an amusement park.” And then it’s off to Cadaqués, with two ex-husbands, the young sons she’s had with each of them, her best friends, Elisa and Sofia, Elisa’s boyfriend, Sofia’s son, and Ursula the babysitter. On the way, they stop for lunch at a friend’s dog rescue and marijuana ranch. The tumble of kookiness and hedonism is balanced by two remarkable calming elements. One, a summer rain of axioms and insights: “Hope is the hardest facial expression to fake and the ability to express it diminishes with every broken dream; the only thing that can substitute the loss is ordinary desire.” Two, a series of brief, emotional cutaways addressing her mother: “When your death was still something inconceivable to me, and still is now, we were at your house chatting. Suddenly, out of nowhere, you stood up to get something from the bathroom and said, without even glancing over at me and as nonchalantly as someone saying, “I need some toothpaste,” that “it’s been an honor to know you.” Oof.
Light, profound, sensual, unmistakably European: this may be the only book about grief to feel like a vacation.