This Too Shall Pass, by Milena Busquets, is a novel about regret and death. It is a novel about regret and life. It is a novel about recovering from a great loss.
Blanca is forty years old and motherless. Shaken by the unexpected death of the most important person in her life, she suddenly realizes that she has no idea what her future will look like.
—from publisher’s blurb
Busquets’ novel was well received in Spain, her native country, and this is the first U.S. paperback edition. (The translation of the novel is credited to Valerie Miles.) Although the subject matter is universal, I had a difficult time connecting with Blanca. Her voice is heard throughout as the narrator speaking to her recently departed mother. Theirs was a love/hate relationship. During the first few chapters, I felt for Blanca and could easily put myself in her shoes. But, as the tale gets more manic and as Blanca becomes more narcissistic (or is this her true self?), I quit rooting for her.
Blanca sets out for her childhood home (which happens to be in Cadaqués, a Catalonian beach town) with assorted friends and their assorted children and lovers, two ex-husbands, the phantom of her dead mother, and a dog. It almost sounds like a new Bravo show—Life with Blanca at the Beach.
Perhaps I am being too hard on Busquets for I did devour the book in a short afternoon sitting. Perhaps I am too hard on Blanca for not having lost a parent, I can only imagine her pain. After finishing the book, I decided I would consider this tale as a chronicle of a breakdown for truly she didn’t manage her entire life like she did in the pages of the novel. The question gives me pause though considering Blanca’s gauge for trust:
I used to measure how much I could trust a person by asking myself whether they would have been a collaborator in occupied France, but now my trial by fire is whether they would send me to a nursing home. (103)
The “Epilogue” helps a bit but I don’t think we ever get to the bottom of the seemingly complicated relationship that existed between the mother and the daughter.
I enjoyed Busquets’ writing style and her observations, especially about family relationships, friendship, love and loss.
I received a complimentary book from Blogging for Books for this review. All opinions, exclamations, gushings and rants are my own.
Epilogue: I always, always, always try to tie a recipe to the novels and nonfiction books I highlight here for Blogging for Books, TLC Book Tour, or Cook the Books. I just couldn’t do it with this novel. Although there are lots of wine and beer, olives and figs, and a few dinner parties, food was not focused on at all. In fact, Blanca observes that because there was such a lack of attention on sustenance in her childhood home that she grew up thinking “there’s nothing in the world more exotic and succulent than home cooking” (60).
Sorry, but my only thoughts were to throw some olives in a bowl and have a glass of chilled white wine.