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Javier Moro: El imperio eres tú (2011)

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el-imperio-eres-tu_smallLately, I’ve become increasingly curious about Brazil, so El imperio eres tú, described as a historical novel about Brazil’s independence and its protagonists, seemed to fit the bill of educating myself on its history well enough. The book traces the story of how the Portuguese court emigrated in its entirety to Brazil upon being threatened by Napoleon invading the country, how João VI, King of the United Kingdom of Portugal and Brazil had to return to Portugal, leaving his son Pedro in charge of the colony, and how the circumstances led to the most singular independence of all the Latin American countries – practically peaceful, establishing the only monarchy on the American continent. Pedro married princess Leopoldina of Austria, who by stroke of more or less luck ended up becoming Empress of Brazil. Dom Pedro, however, was a man with an eye for the ladies, and maintained not just countless one night stands, but also a lengthy affair with a woman named Domitila.

Pedro and Leopoldina are at the centre of El imperio eres tú. It ends (not much of a spoiler here) with Pedro’s death and an epilogue of how things went on under the reign of his son Dom Pedro II, who protagonised the end of the Brazilian monarchic experiment.

Let’s make this short, I did not enjoy El imperio eres tú. It’s difficult to describe it as a novel. Its tone is sterile, there’s little direct speech and the bulk of the story is told from the viewpoint of an omniscient third-person narrator with a penchant for cultural stereotypes:

“Era una reacción propia de una mujer acostumbrada a controlar sus sentimientos de manera férrea. Sólo una alemana podía reaccionar así.”

[It was the reaction of a woman used to controlling her feelings with an iron hand. Only a German could react like this.]

Or:

“Domitila […] era voluptuosa en sus gestos, dulce como sólo una brasileña podía serlo.”

[Domitila (…) was voluptuous in her gestures, sweet like only a Brazilian woman could be.]

Judgement is also passed on the Spanish, the English, and any other nationality that appears in El imperio eres tú. It seems like the book was written for readers who want the world explained to them in an easily digestible way without having to move away from their preconceived notions of what different people are like. Dangerously enough – please forgive the arrogance – I worry that these are also most likely to be the sort of people who will take everything Moro writes for granted, thus further blurring the line between fiction and historical fact. The language, despite the sterility of the narrative, is often cheesy, giving parts of the book the feel of a cheap romance. Moro seems to love this kind of stuff; I should have been warned after previously having chewed my way through El sari rojo, which handles the life of Sonia Gandhi in a similarly sappy fashion. He sells well though, so good for him.

Conclusion: not recommended, although I do know something about Brazilian history now.

No translations yet.

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Author: bettinathenomad

Nomadic fan of books, food, the outdoors, and water. International Relations geek. Chlorine is my perfume.

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