Review: ALL YOURS by Claudia Pineiro

AllYoursPineiroClaudia3134_fI thoroughly enjoyed Claudia Piñeiro’s tale of Argentinian affluence gone awry so I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to get around to reading her second book. Perhaps my subconscious somehow knew that it wouldn’t, for me, be the same kind of reading experience.

It is a deliciously short book which once again takes us into the world of the wealthier inhabitants of Buenos Aries. It is told mostly from the point of view of Inés whose persona is derived from her status as the long-term wife of a successful businessman. When her marriage, and by extension her entire life, looks to be under threat from Ernesto’s behaviour she becomes a woman of action: attempting to put to rights what has gone wrong in her world in a most unconventional way.

My friend Maxine described this as book as a “perfectly pitched black comedy” and it saddens me anew that she is no longer with us and I won’t be able to discuss my very different reaction to the book. I did enjoy sharing thoughts about the books we both loved with Maxine but I also enjoyed those times when we disagreed: intelligent debate without a hint of aggression or derision on either side is not that easy to find these days.

Though I could see some humour in Inés’ logical but flawed thinking I didn’t really find ALL YOURS terribly funny. I’m 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 own trauma is relayed via short chapters of dialogue – are beautifully crafted which is a credit to the author given how little of them there actually is in this novella length story. But their level of narcissism and shallowness did not make them the kind of people I want to spend time with.

The structure of the book is interesting and mostly successful though I’m not convinced of the need for the few chapters which purported to be extracts from forensic texts discovered in Inés’ custody. But the narration by Inés, displaying her increasingly bizarre thought processes and behaviour is well done and the chapters of dialogue that Lali has with her best friend and others manage to say a lot with very few words.

I’m now at the end of the review and realise I’ve described more good things than bad about the book yet still I feel as if I didn’t really like it. At least not as much as I expected I would. Perhaps in the end I’ve not been able to separate my intense dislike for the two main characters and their shallow existence from my feelings about the book as a whole. Which is a little troubling because I often claim not to need to like characters in order to like a book.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Translator Miranda France
Publisher Bitter Lemon Press [this translation 2011, original edition 2006]
ISBN 9781904738800
Length 172 pages
Format paperback
Book Series standalone

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7 thoughts on “Review: ALL YOURS by Claudia Pineiro

  1. Intriguing review, thank you. I might try the first book; maybe I would like this one too – did you like Gone Girl? I know that divided opinion, I liked it despite the unsympathetic characters.

    • No I’m not a fan of Gone Girl – in fact I didn’t finish it – and that was mostly down to the hideously unlikeable characters. But in my defence there’s an Australian book I read last year called SISTERS OF MERCY by Caroline Overington which has at its centre a truly awful woman and I thought it a great book despite that – the difference being there was at least depth to her character – perhaps i just struggle with this kind of shallow person depicted here – the kind of people I don’t take to in real life either

  2. Bernadette – You know, I’ve had that same kind of reaction to some books I’ve read too. In this case, I confess I’ve held off on reading the book because I’ve read some other reviews similar to yours that weren’t exactly raving. Certainly this seems a different kind of book to Thursday Night Widows. I’ll probably still read it, but I understand your ambivalence about it. And I miss Maxine very much too…

  3. Bernadette, thanks for the link and agreeing with me. ;-)
    I hated Gone Girl but it was not only the characters that annoyed me, but the so called twist half way through was so obvious.
    I did a clear out of books to the charity shop the other day, and found one that Maxine had sent me and I had not found time to read. I put it back on my shelf as I could not bring myself to give it away.

  4. I think I agree with the points you’ve made in the review. While I liked Thursday Night Widows a lot, I didn’t really enjoy reading All Yours for some of your reasons. I didn’t care about the characters, and didn’t think there was much to say about them. So, I raced through it and it didn’t make much of an impression.
    As far as Gone Girl, I didn’t read it and I’m not going to read it. When a book is hyped this much on TV shows and elsewhere, I just lose interest. The one non-mystery I’ve read this year and loved was Flight Behavior by award-winning author and biologist, Barbara Kingsolver. But that book is not hyped everywhere.
    I read an earlier book by the author of Gone Girls and I didn’t want to read any more by her.

  5. Also, in agreement with your point about book discussions with Maxine Clarke, even when there was disagreement. My experience was that this was fine on both blogs and in emails. I always enjoyed her comments even if we disagreed.

  6. Pingback: Books of the Months – June and July 2013 | Reactions to Reading

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