This book continues to have a beautiful sense of place. The aroma of the grape vines and the gardenias, the beautiful gardens, and the welcoming workers. I want to go there! I want to make wine and then drink it while sitting on the balcony.
- I like the juxtaposition of the two characters Manuel and Nogueira. At first, they tolerate each other and then begin to lean on one another. They come to an understanding and even develop a friendship.
- I’m struggling with the title. I understand the biblical origins, but I think it’s too long and it doesn’t capture the story. Maybe something could have been done with gardenias. They are symbolic in the book and move with Manuel through the whole story.
- on page 141, Manuel starts writing…this story??? I don’t think this is necessary and it just stops my flow of reading. Why do I need to reread paragraphs and what is it adding to the development of Manuel’s character?
- There are a lot of characters, especially women. One way to cut back on characters is to consolidate. Can one character do what two are currently doing? The innkeeper’s wife gives Manuel information about the exorcisms. Can’t Herminia do this? Herminia is an established and important character. She could certainly be the one to deliver this info and that would get rid of an extra character. The innkeeper’s wife serves no other purpose.
- page 170: “The tall dark figure didn’t move. It stood motionless as a statue, not making itself obvious but not hiding its presence either. She’s always up there, keeping an eye on everything.” Oh, that Raven is pure evil, y’all. That’s just like a devil to lurk, but not hide.
- Another really lovely passage on page 207: “Within his chest a heavy weight occupied the space where heart and lungs had been. Pain’s monstrous bulk, saturated with secrets of the abyss, pressed against his ribs and obstructed his breathing. He saw now there was nothing he could do.” Pain is soaked and heavy with secrets. I don’t know that Redondo needs “of the abyss,” but the visual is a good one.
- page 245, Lucas is telling Manuel about Alvaro’s father and the deal with which he tried to entice Alvaro. This is a lengthy exposition, which might be more believable if it’s broken up into sections or some other device used. Maybe his father wrote this to Alvaro in a letter. I feel like that would be more believable than Lucas reciting hearsay.
- Redondo does a great job of upping the tension as the story progresses. There are little bits, little crumbs that are leading us to the conclusion, which is what keeps people reading.
- Oh, Santiago. You never had a chance.
3 out of 5 To Be Read book stacks
Mystery, murder, drugs, Spanish culture, wine, Catholic priests, beautiful gardens.
With every uncovered secret, Manuel loses faith in what he thought to be true.
Definitely worth the read. The characters are strong, especially the women. (Laura with the plastic wrap – holy moley, Catarina and Elisa.) Manuel struggles with secrets and family histories that don’t belong to him. He’s an outsider, which, is often the case in marriage. It’s a new set of people with their own troubles and demons and ideas of how a family should look and act. I do not want to hang with these people on Christmas.
What does this story NOT have in it? A lack of characters, that’s for sure. The number of characters can sometimes make for a herky-jerky pace. In some scenes the flow seems to go too quickly and in others, too slowly. Redondo does handle the moments of tension well, letting us sit in the uncomfortable-ness for just long enough (see any scene involving The Raven – dreadful woman).
I was happy to read a story by a woman author about the life and love of a homosexual couple that was treated as it should be – normal. Their sexuality was a plot point, but given the circumstances of real life for many gay couples, it made sense. These two men loved each other, depended on each other, lived together, were successful and driven in their own fields, and were devoted to the life they shared, which makes Manuel’s grief and confusion powerful.
Now go. Read.