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The Curse of Flores, the Brazilian novel that will take you this summer

The Curse of Flores, the Brazilian novel that will take you this summer

In this powerful story that combines present-day Brazil with history 100 years ago, Angelica López tells the story of a group of Pernambuco lacemakers who are liberating themselves through embroidery.

“We were not all related by blood, but we were united by the art of processing thread and lace to turn them into unique canvases.” This art the narrator talks about The Curse of Flores It is a renaissance lace made by women deep in the northeast of Brazil. Far from the modernity of São Paulo or the postcard of Rio de Janeiro, Angelica López’s book immerses us in a completely different reality: in the small village of Bom Retiro, where live Ines, Candida, Eugenia, Aunt Firmina… embroiderers with fairy fingers; The year is 1918, and patriarchy reigns in this remote corner of Brazil. Their work allows the women of the Flores family to earn money in order to gain some autonomy and not depend on men. Because they have fallen victim to a curse that a gypsy woman has unleashed on their clan, which claims that as soon as one marries, one dies early. Therefore, they live among themselves, away from the male population afraid of the dark omen.

The Curse of FloresBy Angelica López, published by Éditions du Seuil.
Editions du Seuil

The story begins when their friend Evgenia is forced to leave the circle of embroiderers to marry against her will at the age of 15 to a colonel, a widow and an authoritarian. The young woman with a strong personality then invents a secret code hidden in the stitches of her lace that allows her to communicate with her best friend, Ines, to hatch an escape plan. Her project is to reach the big city of Recife, where the avant-garde feminist movement, Ave Libertas, will be able to help her in the fight.

A fate that hangs by a thread

Anjelica López, an award-winning author of children’s literature in Brazil, publishes her first novel for adults here. However, the resident of Rio de Janeiro is also the screenwriter of novels for the powerful TV Gobo. And his sense of rhythm and rock carving work wonders here. He delivers brilliantly page turner All the more original and intense because of its exotic context. From first names to traditions, from superstitions to the Santa Agueda procession… with a few inspiring words, we were immediately immersed in this dry and intense geography. We are caught by the fate of the fiery Eugenia hanging by a thread.

Because Lopez has deftly placed this tradition of lace at the heart of her concern. It is therefore dizzying to imagine that this Renaissance lace, born in Italy between 1400 and 1600, becomes the driving force of emancipation in Brazil. Colorful patterns are woven before our eyes. Since it was woven in white in Europe, this lace takes on bright colors in the hands of Brazilians, finds its way into table and household linens, and today decorates all kinds of things.

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Angelica López, who has a twenty-year-old daughter, is very sensitive to the situation of women in Brazil, who are treated badly, especially by the conservative government of Jair Bolsonaro. Thus, she introduces a second, ongoing narrative phase in the novel, around the character of Alice, a twenty-year-old feminist activist in Rio de Janeiro. Alice is none other than a descendant of Flores. When she inherits a lace curtain woven by her ancestors in 2010, little does she know that it tells the story of violence and the struggle for freedom that took place a century ago. The parallel journeys of these heroines keep us in suspense throughout the novel in a moving ode to resistance, sisterhood, and transmission.

The Curse of FloresTranslated by Angelica López by Marine Duval, Éditions du Seuil, 288 pages, €21.90.

Source: Le Figaro

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