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The Disappearance of Irene Dos Santos
Date of Review: 
Joan Hives
The Front Table

Within these pages is an artfully constructed novel written by a classic storyteller, Margaret Mascarenhas. The story, reminiscent of a modernized selection from Canterbury Tales, opens with a quotation ascribed to Dolores Ibarruri: “It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.” This expression gives way to a set of sections based on the story’s principal’s private lives. That opening quote of Ibarruris, (she helped form the Spanish communist party around 1921), suggests subtle, underlying themes present in the story’s plot.Is this novel a mystery? Perhaps mysterious would be more accurate. Still this selection is an especially recommended read for mature feminine readers because it contains extraordinary details dealing with the development of family relationships, maturation, trust, love, loss and death. Set in a background of disturbed social institutions, surrounded by economic and political turmoil in the country of Venezuela, the essence of “good life” values are offered despite events of surrounding communal havoc and anxiety. Does Mascarenhas succeed in helping us think thoughtfully about the composition of what constitutes her evaluation of that good life? I believe so and am pleased to read her considerations.