Posted: August 22, 2011 in Argentina, review

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? 

My review of Thursday Night Widows.

  1. Margot Kinberg says:

    Norman – Thanks for this honest review. I’m sorry to hear this one didn’t work for you. I was especially interested in what you said about the translation. Your examples show so clearly how important subtle things like the expressions used are in creating atmosphere. I’m all for making sure that a translation makes sense to readers from other cultures; that, after all, is the main point of a translation. But if there’s overcompensation, or if for some other reason the translation doesn’t keep the real flavour of the original setting, something important is lost.

  2. Philip says:

    Very helpful to me once again, Norman. I shall look out for her first book, but relegate her a few places in my ‘authors I’d like to get hold of’ list. Now, I do think it must be four, maybe five years since I first commented on a crime fiction blog, and that blog was yours, you know. The second blog I read was Maxine’s. And that’s why I want to say here, where I started off, that I’m not going to comment in future, though I shall continue to read a few very select blogs. This morning I wrote a long comment re NZ crime fiction on Craig’s blog, and couldn’t get it to transmit via Google or WordPress. Then on another blog, Google persistently told me my password of six years is wrong, and eventually shut down my account. Three more in succession — I was testing — I had to join Facebook or Twitter in order to comment. Right. If you ever hear I’ve done that, dive down the bunker, for the end will be nigh. Anyway, these are the nonsensical things that comprise the insignificant tedium of life. Last weekend, the beautiful granddaughter of my closest friends was rendered quadriplegic, and on Tuesday my dear friend, her grandfather, had a heart attack, on Wednesday a massive stroke, and on Thursday he died. They spend half the year at their house in Ireland, and so it was that he, a Yorkshireman originally, died there, where both of them wanted to be when their time came, although being thousands of miles from the granddaughter is yet more strain upon dear Bridie. What with that and the rest of the stuff that’s come my way this year — so far — I must dispose of the insignificant tedium brought to me by Google and WordPress and Facebook, or I shall get no forwarder with the realities. However, I shall be looking at those blogs, so I hope you and others can keep up the incredibly high standards you’ve set for yourselves


  3. Norman says:

    Margot- Similar comments are being made about a British TV series The Hour starring Dominic West that is set in the 1950s. Some transatlantic expressions used in the dialogue apparently never arrived here until the 1970s. I haven’t watched The Hour yet but will be interested when I do to see if I can spot these blemishes.

  4. Norman says:

    Philip- I am very sorry to hear your dreadful news. I have a very close friend called Bridie who worked with me for 15 years, what a terrible week it must have been for your Bridie.
    We will all miss your comments, because dear Maxine constantly asked about you when the interregnum occurred during your ill health. Do feel free to pop in at any time.
    I am constantly baffled by all this technology and wonder why I have never lost a short comment but they only disappear when I have spent a lot of time on them. How does blogger know?
    My children and stepchildren were all keen horse riders, my son played rugby, and one always worries about accidents to the neck and spinal column. Very sad.
    Best wishes to you Philip and my condolences to Bridie, and very best wishes to her granddaughter

  5. Jose Ignacio says:

    Norman that was an excellent review although the book did not work for you. I can understand your points, as have happened to me before. I’m less keen now to read it as soon as planned.

    • Philip says:

      I must thank you, Norman, for your kind words. I have long thought you one of the kindest of men, and so do I think of Maxine on the ‘distaff’ side. Bridie and Keith were my friends for 35 years. One of the recurring highlights of later years were dinners we had with our friends Ed and Linda, in their mid-70s as B and K were but vibrant with it, the most wonderful evenings that came to an end when Ed and Linda died within three weeks of one another. The three of us continued to have lunches and long afternoons of conversation, and never once did we do so without evoking Ed and Linda. This year started for me with a fall on ice and a mighty crack on the noggin just as I was making progress in my recuperation from my illness, and then, of course, my brother died of multiple myeloma on May14. I knew already that in October there would be an event that might cause me great difficultly, and so it was that I decided that it would be for the best just to right the entire year off — it obviates disappointment, if nothing else. It defies my imagination to mull how Bridie — the gentlest and softest-spoken colleen — is dealing with both the bereavement and the quadriplegia (they have no computer at their Irish house so contact is limited), but it is going to be tough going, and my wish is that she return to their hoe here as soon as all is sorted out in Buncrana. I shall pass on your kind thoughts to Bridie and to Leah, Norman. I hope you will take very good care of yourself — please don’t fall down any more staircases. Promise me you won’t do that and I’ll promise not to fall ony ice patches and brain myself. ( –:

  6. kathy d. says:

    This is definitely a bad time of year. I just lost my first cousin who passed away unexpectedly at the age of 66, just celebrated a birthday, in fact. She left a spouse, son and her parents somewhat at sea. She was the center of family life.
    And then a relative’s mother-in-law was stricken by a fatal heart-related condition while on a trip to her homeland of Sweden last week, the first in many years.
    It’s time to not lift my nose from a work of crime fiction, the only distraction from the hard knocks life brings.

  7. Maxine says:

    So sorry to hear your sad news and your internet meltdown, Philip. The question of online identities and what organisations or companies will make you do in order to interact is one that you had better not get me started on! But as you say, it pales into significance when real bad things happen, and I’m so sorry.
    Also, Kathy, I am sorry to hear about your loss.

    Norman, I haven’t read your review as I haven’t yet read the book – in fact it is en route now so I will brace myself. It reminds me a bit of Teresa Solana, whose first book was such a breath of funny fresh, satirical air but whose second was, to me, a disappointment. Anyway, when the book arrives and I’ve read it, I shall read your review and compare opinions.

  8. Norman says:

    Maxine, Kathy and Philip it is definitely not a good time as virtually everyone I know is struggling with loss or illness. One of my earliest childhood memories [1950] is of my father crying every night for months when his elder brother [a brilliant surgeon who worked in London through the Blitz] died aged 46.
    Over 60 years later I am crying about Jacob, who was also brilliant in his own way, and whose unconditional love made him the centre of family life and of his band mates in the Honeytones.
    I had better start thinking about the good times.

  9. Maxine says:

    So sorry to read the above comment, Norman, though I have come to it late. I understand only too well, and can only say again how sorry I am.

    I just came here by the way to say that I’ve now read the book and really liked it.

  10. […] Crime Fiction (where Glenn has a different view from mine about the Laura aspects of the plot), and Crime Scraps (where Norman explains why he did not like the book as much as some other reviewers. I felt the […]

  11. Miranda France says:

    Just to be clear: Lali is called ‘Mum’ by the nurse attending her because she is an expectant mother. Many pregnant women or new mothers who have been in hospital will probably also have experience of having been called ‘mum’ by someone or other who didn’t know her name, even if it was the tea lady. In any case, this is a direct translation of ‘Mamá’ in the original text – not too controversial, I think.

    Sorry you didn’t like ‘blimey’! I can’t remember the context for that, but there is a lot of slang in the book and I was just trying to find equivalents – perhaps that one was too British, but I don’t think it’s cockney, necessarily. I know plenty of posh people who say it . . .

    • Norman Price says:

      Oops I lost my internet in the middle of a lengthy reply. Back again now.

      Miranda, thanks very much for your comments and explanations. I was a bit disappointed in All Yours compared with Thursday Night widows which I thought was superb. It is just my personal opinion that leaving the Spanish would have been better, but I understand the translator is stuck in the middle between author, publisher, editor, and monolingual amateur reviewers.
      Posh people saying blimey what next. When I was a teenager we had elocution lessons to get rid of our South London accents now politicians and their wives learn to modify their Eton and Cheltenham Ladies College accents to speak Estuary English.
      Thanks again.

  12. […] much more inclined to agree with another crime reading buddy’s assessment of this as book as much less perceptive and thought-provoking than its predecessor. I admit that all three of the characters – Inés, Ernesto and their teenage daughter Lali whose […]

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