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The Seamstress (2008)

di Frances de Pontes Peebles

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4362942,603 (4.06)76
In 1930's Brazil, a vigilante gang invades the home of two seamstresses, kidnapping one of them.


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Inglese (26)  Spagnolo (1)  Olandese (1)  Francese (1)  Tutte le lingue (29)
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This book has everything I love: a history lesson, strong characters, and a great story! ( )
  Rdra1962 | Aug 1, 2018 |
I was inspired to read this novel after seeing several other good reviews for it on LT. I really enjoyed the setting of Brazil in the 1920-30s. I also enjoy a good book about sisters. How two people brought up in the same home and by the same parenting figures can be so different is very interesting to me.

Emilia strives to escape the countryside. She is desperate to become a fashionable lady with her own house to run in the city. Luzia Justs wants to be seen for who she really is, more than the girl with the crippled arm. Both these girls are brave in their own way and have their own struggles to face,

I got engrossed in the book very early on, finding it difficult to put down. The middle became a bit harder as the political situation had to be explained within the story. The final quarter of the book was again, very good. ( )
  Roro8 | Jan 14, 2016 |
Meeslepend verhaal - kapstok: het leven van twee zussen Luzia en Emilia uit het 'achterland' waarvan de ene evolueert tot warlord en de andere tot voorname dame uit de hogere kringen van Recife. Een hoofdstuk over het wel en wel en de visie van Emilia worden gevolgd door eentje van Luzia. Beiden groeien als weesjes op bij hun tante Sofia en verdienen in haar spoor de kost als naaistertjes voor de dorpelingen en vooral ten huize van de plaatselijke kolonel/machthebber. Hierin ligt de kiem van het spoor dat ze later - willens nillens- zullen bewandelen.
De grote verdienste van de roman is een inkijk te geven zowel in het bestaan van de 'rebellen' als in het formele leven van de deelstaathoofdstad van Pernambuco, waar de touwtjes van de macht bijeenkomen.
Enige kritiek: de omslag van de Nederlandse uitgave past totaal niet bij deze roman die zich rond de jaren 1930 afspeelt, de pompadourachtige kledij en het zeemzoetige snuitje van de dame doen afbreuk aan de allesbehalve melige inhoud. ( )
  Baukis | Feb 18, 2015 |
This book was a surprise to me. It's a large book with a pretty, but generic cover. I knew it was worthy and historical and set somewhere in South America; all of which were fine things, but not things that called me to read it. So the amount of enjoyment I got from this book, the sheer fun I had reading it, was unexpected. I didn't know beforehand that Frances de Pontes Peebles had written a rip-roaring adventure story that ran the gamut from hardscrabble survival in the Brazilian hinterlands to coastal high society to political turmoil to life in an outlaw gang, evading the law and enacting vengeance, all set during the last few years of the 1920s to the first few years of the 1930s.

The Seamstress follows two very different sisters, being raised by their aunt, who teaches them a trade and manners. Emilia longs for a more elegant life, the one depicted in the magazines handed down to her by her employer. She refuses to look at the stolid farmer's sons who would court her, setting her sights on the refined sewing teacher from the capitol. Luiza, tall and with an arm crippled in a fall from a mango tree, has no use for the things Emilia loves. She likes her life in her aunt's house, although she is prickly and rebellious. Circumstances sent one sister to live in luxury in Recife, the provincial capital, while the other joins a band of bandits, led by The Hawk, a feared but canny outlaw. Brazil is changing rapidly, and those changes challenge each woman. Both Luiza and Emilia are complex, interesting and believable characters. They are both strong women, although their strengths fall in different areas.

The book begins slowly, but it wasn't long before I was hauling it around with me to read a few more pages whenever I could. Generally, I only travel with an ereader or a light paperback, but I was willing to lug The Seamstress around with me until, all too quickly, it came to an end. ( )
2 vota RidgewayGirl | Oct 26, 2014 |
In the late 1920s and 1930s, Brazil was in the midst of upheaval. There were "Colonels" who as land barons ruled their own territories because there was no true central government. There were cangaceiros who were like bandits living in the hardships of the outlands.

The Seamstress is the story of two sisters, Emilia and Luzia who have been taught how to sew by their aunt who took them in when their parents died. Luzia has a deformed arm from a childhood accident and is not liked in the town. Emilia wants to go to a big city, marry well,and be fashionable. When a band of cangacerios comes to the town, Luzia, attracted to the leader of the group, decides to leave with them. Emilia soon chooses to marry and moves to the city of Recife.

The book alternates between the two sisters and the story of their lives told from each different point of view. I found I had a lot of sympathy for each of them and they were real enough that I was upset that each didn't know what the other was going through and thinking. There was also a lot of information on the politics going on in Brazil at the time. For a long book (600+ pages), it kept my interest and I wished real life didn't interfere so I could read it faster.

I think on some level, I expect all books to end well. The killer gets caught, the boy gets the girl, ... You know what I mean. Even though I expected that Luzia would die, I thought she would at least see Emilia and her son before she did. That she should die without either of them know the misunderstandings of things that they interpreted wrong through the years was very sad for me.

The fact that it bothered me that much shows me how well this book was written. Probably one of the best books I've read this year.

ETA: I realized after that maybe I shouldn't have said that the fact it bothered me showed it was well written. Because that's not always true. What I meant was the writing had me invested in what happened. ( )
1 vota dudes22 | Oct 19, 2014 |
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...rising toward a saint

still honored in these parts,

the paper chambers flush and fill with light

that comes and goes, like hearts...

receding, dwindling, solemnly

and steadily forsaking us,

or, in the downdraft from a peak,

suddenly turning dangerous...

- Elizabeth Bishop, "The Armadillo"
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to the women - living and dead - of my family, all of them ladies and guerreiras

And to James, who always believed
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Emíla awoke alone.
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In 1930's Brazil, a vigilante gang invades the home of two seamstresses, kidnapping one of them.

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