Friday, August 19, 2016

Spain: This Too Shall Pass, by Milena Busquets

The back dust jacket of this slim book carries extracts from eight reviews which claim it to be "luminous and profound", "full of subtle wisdom", "touching and deeply funny" among other words of praise. Hmmm. I found it profoundly annoying. Blanca's mother had just died. She leaves Barcelona and travels to the resort town of Cadaques along with two friends, two ex-husbands and two sons. There is also a married lover tucked away.

Any "subtle wisdom" is tucked away beneath layers of talk about sex, drugs, and detailed adjective-laden descriptions of what everyone is wearing. Blanca seems to live a comfortable life but has no visible means of support: "my psychiatrist wants me to get a job". At one point, one of her friends accuses her of being a spoilt rich girl with a trust fund, and just when I was thinking "that explains it", she denies having a trust fund, but there is no alternative explanation of the source of funds that she lives on.

As for the drugs, the talk of drug use - smoking a joint, for instance, or at another point, being offered a "line" at a party - is treated as quite casual and normal, with little hint that drugs might actually do harm. And there is plenty of the "f" word.

Yes, there is some widsom about the grief process - overwhelmed, as I said, by the other elements. Some beautiful description. Humour? Nothing that I recognised as such, perhaps it is humour that does not translate well internationally.

The book was not so bad that I had trouble finishing it. But neither was it good enough for me to have any desire to seek out more by the same author.

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