‘O Amante do Crato’ by Maria Velho da Costa

My rating: 3 stars

The plot is not at the centre of the four short stories in the collection O Amante do Crato by the Portuguese author Maria Velho da Costa. If occasionally the writing style is enough to enchant, the lack of meaningful actions throughout the majority of the stories affected my reading experience. Some of the tales could have been far more interesting hadn’t they been so short.

The first two stories in the collection come to an end before anything is fully explored. ‘A Prima Odília’ starts after the death of the narrator’s mother in 1912. He seems unaffected by such a loss, because it was not unexpected. For most of the story nothing happens, but when there are only a couple of paragraphs left to read a mystery is introduced. It is never solved, however, which infuriated me. In ‘Poder Fatal’, the relationship between the characters is also not delved into either. Although the beginning is gripping, thanks to the detailed descriptions, the story doesn’t go anywhere interesting. A man and a woman meet, but readers never get to learn who they are.

‘A Ponte de Serralves’ is slightly more impressive. It focuses on a day in Miss Laura’s life. The narration of her actions is interspersed with descriptions of her house and garden. The descriptions are evocative and there are moments of remarkable work of language, but there isn’t much substance to the plot either. Continue reading


Books I Want to Read Until the End of 2021

There are only three full months left in 2021, and I’m falling behind in my reading challenge. In order to complete it, I will have to finish the eight books that I’m truly eager to read until the year is over. The list features both novels, short story collections and poetry. Some authors are new to me, while others are old acquaintances. Some books are massive, others are tiny. In terms of genres, they are as diverse.


The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

I’ve only recently started reading The Luminaries and don’t have a strong opinion about it yet. As I don’t think I’ll DNF it, though, it is one of the books I want to finish until the end of the year. Set in 1866, it follows Walter Moody as he arrives in New Zealand to try his luck at the goldfields and to search for his father, who disappeared from Scotland. At the Crown Hotel, he encounters a group of twelve people who are discussing a series of crimes.


Não Se Pode Morar nos Olhos de um Gato by Ana Margarida de Carvalho

Set at the end of the 19th century, this novel by the Portuguese author Ana Margarida de Carvalho has been on my wish list for years. The time has come to finally read it. After the abolition of slavery, a boat illegally carrying slaves sinks near the coast of Brazil, but a group of people manages to survive. They are the main focus of this book, which seems to be most of all a character study. Continue reading