Ines suspects her husband Ernesto is unfaithful, and one night follows him to his clandestine meeting with his secretary Alicia. She suspects Alicia is the woman who signs herself All Yours and she has dubbed ‘Truelove’, and is not bothered when she sees Ernesto push Alicia into a tree branch. She watches as Ernesto discovers Alicia is dead, and then drives home. Ernesto pushes the body into a lake, and when he confesses to Ines that Alicia was sexually harassing him she provides him with an alibi for that night. Meanwhile Lali, their daughter, is pregnant by her boyfriend, but they are too involved in their own troubles to notice. Several months later Ines realises that Ernesto’s current lover was not Alicia but Alicia’s niece, Charo, and plots a revenge over her husband, which ignores the fact they have a daughter, who needs them desperately.
I really enjoyed Claudia Pineiro’s first book to be translated into English Thursday Night Widows, but was disappointed with All Yours, which has none of the social comment or subtlety of the earlier book. I am probably in a small minority when I say that for me this tale of infidelity, betrayal and revenge was far less perceptive than Thursday Night Widows. It was a hard hitting, sparse book with a neat structure. Ines narrates her chapters in the first person, daughter Lali’s chapters consist purely of dialogue with her friends or strangers, and there is one short passage with Ernesto narrating in the first person.
Why then did this not work for me?
Firstly Lali’s dialogue pieces in which she converses with working class Argentineans are translated as if these people are cockneys. Lali is referred to as “Mum” which I never worked out was because she was pregnant or the cockney for Ma’am. But when one character shouts “Blimey” I was rapidly transported from Buenos Aires to the Walworth Road, Camberwell and any atmosphere created was lost. Sometimes leaving an exclamation in the original language might be the better course of action.
But the main reason I was not keen on All Yours was that Ines, and Ernesto, were such selfish unappealing characters that I really did not care what happened to them. Ernest is I assume the typical Latin American macho male, and Ines the passive wife with buckets of rage boiling beneath the surface, but willing to accept infidelity as the price of a comfortable life, and social status.
“Ernesto’s a wonderful man,” I thought. He’s not one of those skirt-chasers who play the field, then come home to off-load their guilt.”Darling, I can’t lie to you, I’m afraid I went to bed with your best friend,” they say, to which the only fitting reply is “Lie to me, you bastard-it’s the least I deserve!”
How sad for Lali with parents like that…….but then perhaps that is what the author wanted the reader to feel. In which case it did work?