Books: Alice Vieira

Alternate title: if you are looking for Portuguese, look no further

Flor de Mel
Ursula, a maior
Editorial Caminho paperback,
115 pages
Editorial Caminho paperback,
166 pages

Why I read them
It’s all Alex‘s and Nymeth‘s fault, for making me aware of Vieira. And it’s Vieira’s own fault too, for being such a good storyteller that after Os olhos de Ana Marta, I was ready to buy and read all of her books. Especially those that came recommended.

On reading
I won’t say much about the contents, except that both books tell the story of young girls in a difficult familiar situation and how they deal with it. I won’t say more because I’d give away something, and I do think that the way the stories are told, detail by detail and mystery by mystery, is part of what makes these books interesting — again, it’s Vieira’s narrative technique that makes them worthwhile. Yet at the same time these stories are always so sad… that I still feel they’re more suitable for an adult audience.

The Portuguese aspect
When talking about Vieira, Alex and Nymeth wondered why her books have never been translated. Three books in, I am still convinced that they are way too Portuguese to work for a wider audience. It is hard to put my finger on a specific reason, but the society they describe feels different from anything I (as Italian) have experienced in my childhood, and even if no specific places are ever mentioned, it is definitely not a universal setting. I don’t think I could appreciate this books as much if I had never lived in Portugal. Oh, and now that I come to think of it — maybe that sadness is also very Portuguese. Not that the Portuguese I know strike me as particularly sad, but they are famous for fado and saudade, after all…

If you have read Flor de mel, I have a question for you: who is the blond woman? Because I discussed this book with my husband, but we don’t agree on the outcome, and I felt cheated at not having a real answer to the book’s mystery, but maybe I just missed a major detail.


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