Sunday 12 July 2020

The Gods of Tango by Carolina De Robertis

I have always enjoyed the music of the tango from the first time I heard it. In fact I've always wanted to learn to dance it. So when I saw The Gods of Tango by Carolina De Robertis, who is from an Uruguayan family, a family who has lived in many countries around the world and that it was about living in the time of the start of Tango, I had to read it.

February 1913: seventeen-year-old Leda, carrying only a small trunk and her father’s cherished violin, leaves her Italian village for a new home, and a new husband, in Argentina. Arriving in Buenos Aires, she discovers that he has been killed, but she remains: living in a tenement, without friends or family, on the brink of destitution. Still, she is seduced by the music that underscores life in the city: tango, born from lower-class immigrant voices, now the illicit, scandalous dance of brothels and cabarets. Leda eventually acts on a long-held desire to master the violin, knowing that she can never play in public as a woman. She cuts off her hair, binds her breasts, and becomes “Dante,” a young man who joins a troupe of tango musicians bent on conquering the salons of high society. Now, gradually, the lines between Leda and Dante begin to blur, and feelings that she has long kept suppressed reveal themselves, jeopardizing not only her musical career, but her life.

Richly evocative of place and time, its prose suffused with the rhythms of the tango, its narrative at once resonant and gripping, this is De Robertis’s most accomplished novel yet.

The Gods of Tango does a great job of taking the reader back to the Argentina of the early 1900's and what was the early time of tango. De Robertis does a great job of painting a visualization of that gritty era. What amazed me the most was how, through her descriptions of Leda/Dante listening to, or playing the tango, how I could hear it in my head. The story is excellent and goes in directions which I never expected.

An excellent story, told well. Now, I have an urge to take a tango class.

No comments: