Euridice Gusmao can turn her hand to absolutely anything, and very quickly become quite brilliant at it. But because she’s a woman in 1940s Rio, very few people see it that way. So things don’t turn out quite as they could have done, for herself or her sister; at least, not at first:
Euridice is a virtuoso recorder player, her parents dash her hopes of studying with a great maestro. So she gets married, and soon becomes a fabulous cook. But her husband laughs off the idea that she could publish her recipes – so she fills her days while he’s at work with becoming the most sought-after dressmaker in the neighbourhood… until he finds out. Her sister Guida’s husband, however, is much worse:
As you can imagine, things get rather worse for Guida before they get better, but get better they do. Guida’s son has a very different childhood:
Both women are marvellously resilient to the restrictions they face, coming up with a creative way to overcome every obstacle. While this book can make you rage at the – gender, race and class – injustice in Brazilian society, there is a lot of humour in it too, and a plot that races forward.
Martha Batalha, author of The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao, said of her translator Eric Baker, “one should be deeply in love with a language and a country to be able to translate its stories to the world.” After reading his translation, you might find yourself a little bit more in love with Brazil’s people too, yourself.