In a wealthy gated community called Cascade Heights (or something all together more melodic sounding in Spanish I’m sure) in the hills outside Buenos Aries four men meet each Thursday night for cards, drinking and whatever else four wealthy men might do together. On one particular Thursday night three of the men lie dead in a swimming pool and the fourth, Ronie Guevara is in hospital with a broken leg.
Thursday Night Widows opens with a description of these events and then tells the story of the months, even years, that led up to this night through the eyes of the women who live in Cascade Heights. Much of the story is told from Virginia Guevara’s perspective because as the only real estate agent for the community she sees and knows all, writing many of her secrets in her red notebook, but there are chapters told from the perspective of the other ‘widows’ and several other women in the community too. From the outside it is a community that anyone would want to be part of offering safety, a chance to show off your wealth and the security of only having to mix with your social equals. But beneath the surface there are many tensions including people who have lost the jobs that afford them the status to stay in Cascade Heights and domestic abuse of various kinds. The time period of the book’s setting is in the period following the September 11 attacks in the US when a currency inflation crisis is beginning to squeeze the economy of Argentina and these world events play their role in this isolated community too.
The people depicted here really are quite morally abhorrent with their endless attention to status and the way they will be perceived and their total disregard for the people around them including, often, their own families. But Piñeiro just tells people’s stories, warts and all, and allows readers to draw their own conclusions. It’s a stretch to say any of the characters end up being entirely sympathetic but the way their stories unfold explains things in a way that a more judgmental style of writing could never have done.
Thursday Night Widows turned out to be an excellent choice for the global reading challenge as, like the best crime fiction always does, it reflected its setting in a really engaging way. I found it a very easy, quick read although it might not have enough crime for the die-hard action fans out there. However as a window into a community you might never see otherwise I highly recommend it.
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My rating 4/5
Translator Miranda France; Publisher Bitter Lemon Press [this translation 2009, originally 2005]; ISBN 9781904738411; Length 278 pages
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