My rating: 4 stars
Having read Livro by the Portuguese author José Luís Peixoto for the first time almost a decade ago, I was certain that I had forgotten many details about it. I was not expecting to have misremembered so much about the plot and the characters, though. While telling the story of Ilídio and Adelaide, Peixoto painted not only a convincing picture of the life in a small Portuguese village in the second half of the 20th century, but also touched on issues related to the political repression of those who criticised Salazar, the colonial war, and the Portuguese migration to France.
In 1948, Ilídio, one of the main characters, was merely six years old. To his surprise, his mother gave him a book as they were walking around the village. Although he couldn’t figure out the reason why, his attention quickly turned to something else. While he was giving free rein to his imagination, his mother left him by himself next to a fountain with just a bag and the book. He waited for hours for her to return, but she never did. On the following morning, Josué, the mason of the village, arrived to pick him up and took him to his home, where he then grew up.
When he was 15, Ilídio asked Adelaide, the niece of one of the most well-known inhabitants of the village, Lubélia, to be his girlfriend. She said yes. As a thank you, he offered her 100 escudos, a pigeon and the book that his mother had given him before disappearing. Around seven years later, Ilídio went to Lubélia’s house seeking permission to marry Adelaide. The old woman started laughing nonstop. Continue reading