Monday, May 27, 2013

Além Tejo - Catarina Pereira Araujo (Portuguese HF Challenge)

One of the things I was hoping with the Portuguese Historical Fiction challenge was to find new books to read. Not that I didn't already have an extensive TBR pile but a true book lover never has enough books and is always hoping to find a new "buried treasure". I am very happy to say that I have found my first buried treasure in this Alem Tejo that I first knew about through Patxocas review.

What attracted my attention first was the mention that this would appeal to both fans of Austen's Pride and Prejudice and fans of Gaskell's North and South. I love both books and have been collecting prequels, sequels and spinoffs. Could it be that there was one in Portuguese that I hadn't heard about? Yep, there is!

And I am quite happy that I tracked it down and read it. First of all because it is set in one of favourite regions of the country in a recent period in Portuguese history - the fifties in Alentejo - and because it is an interesting story of two people falling in love.

Basically it is the story of Eduardo, a wealthy landowner who manages a large estate in Alentejo providing work for many poor laborers, and Isabel a young lady of a good family who believes in education for all in a period when the poorer classes were often unable to send their children to school and the adults could barely read and write. Eduardo and Isabel's relationship starts off on the wrong foot and the tension grows each time they meet.

The references to P&P and N&S are obvious in particular scenes and in the development of the relationships. Although that makes it all the more endearing to fans of the other books I think it may have slowed the action a bit as Eduardo and Isabel's relationship kept moving forward and backwards... But it wasn't anything that kept me from enjoying it very much.

I just read on Goodreads that the author has rewritten it for the ebook version and now I am wondering if I should get that one too.

This is a book I would recommend to anyone. P&P and N&S lovers but also lovers of romance and Portuguese historical fiction!

Grade: 4.5/5

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