The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao
By Martha Batalha
Euridice is bright and ambitious. But this is Brazil in the 1940s and society expects her to be a loving wife and mother. While Antenor is busy congratulating himself on his excellent catch, Euridice spends her humdrum days ironing his shirts, removing the lumps of onion from his food, dreaming of the success she could have made of herself as a writer, dressmaker or culinary whizz – in another life.
Her free-spirited sister Guida, on the other hand, is the kind of person who was ‘born knowing everything’. When she returns from her failed elopement with stories of heartbreak and loss, the lives of Euridice and her husband are thrown into confusion, with disastrous consequences.
One of the main themes throughout this novel is sexism, oppression, how men treat women and how women are meant to play restricted roles within life and how they cope with this. Euridice has a husband who doesn’t take notice of her amazing talents, he just wants a perfect little housewife that keeps within the lines and doesn’t think outside the box. Euridice’s sister, Guida runs away to be with the love of her life who then leaves her, pregnant and alone, something that happens quite commonly in 2018 but not in Brazil in the 1940s.
Oppressed by her husband as a house-wife Euridice is bored of cooking, cleaning and staring at her perfectly painted fingernails, she wants more out of life than just being a boring wife and mother. She has passions, ambitions and creative talents but her way of life stilts her. She enjoys cooking, so becomes good at it, following complex recipes until she masters everything and starts producing her own, creating a cook book which is quickly shot down and laughed at by her husband. Her whole family didn’t appreciate the effort she went in to making these elaborate meals for them. Her dream of having her own cookbook ruined within seconds “Stop kidding yourself around woman. Who buys a book written by a housewife?” After being denied this she gets bored again, this time she takes up sewing and begins making patterns and dressing her children, then onto the entire neighbourhood everyone is begging her to make them clothes, as soon as her husband finds out its shot down again and she is forced to stop.
Euridice is a forward thinking and creative woman, it is so sad to see throughout the book that her husband cannot understand her amazing talents, she is put down by him and other people such as her school teacher in her childhood. Euridice’s teacher put her down for her lisp, she was an intelligent child yet put down for something that didn’t really matter. She pursues a passion for playing the recorder but isn’t allowed to continue this to a higher level and is made to do what “all normal children do” study, play with friends and meet a boy. Just like as an adult she is expected to be a good housewife, cooking, cleaning and looking after the children. Euridice even believes it herself “She’d always know she wasn’t worth much”, a really sad thought to think about yourself.
I found it so sad to read that a talented and creative young girl and woman was given so many opportunities to pursue her passions but “hasn’t been allowed to” by her parents, teachers and husband. I kept thinking whilst reading this imagine if my boyfriend stopped me from doing graphic design or writing my blog just because he couldn’t understand it, how in this day and age I would like to think that women can do what they want without having husbands controlling them. Though unfortunatly in many cultures this still does happen because of religion, beliefs and even themselves. How often have you really waned to pursue a passion but haven’t as you don’t think you are “good enough” or think it’s “silly”. At least Euridice didn’t stop herself from her passions, just a shame her husband did. However I don’t think Euridice’s husband stopped her out of spite, I think he was just a stubborn man set in his ways and he didn’t like change, even down to where he places his slippers and the time he ate his dinner. I don’t think he wanted to upset Euridice at all, he just thought her cookbooks and sewing wasn’t the “normal thing to do” for a perfect little housewife.
What I didn’t like about the novel was only a small part of it was actually about Euridice, the main proportion was about her sister Guida and her life. I didn’t much care for her life and what she got up to at all, I wanted to hear more about Euridice her passions and creativeness, I thought the novel started really well but I soon got bored. Then other characters were introduced and back stories but I just didn’t much care for them. I did like how the novel was peppered with some light humour especially regarding Euridice’s neighbour Zealia. Everytime Euridice takes up a new hobby, her neighbour assumes it is because the family are poor or struggling with money, I liked her gossipy busy body character and these parts did make me chuckle.
Overall I enjoyed the novel, it’s not something I would pick up and read again though. I liked the story however I wanted more Euridice and less of her sisters life perils. I think if you want a quick holiday read that isn’t the usual mushy romance but a quirky, witty and touching this would be a good choice for you.
The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao is a novel I received in the May Reading in Heels subscription box in. Other than the novel I also a coffee bag, 2 chocolate that had the book cover design printed on there, a beautiful bookmark and a matt lipstick. For £12 a month you can’t go wrong, I have loved every month of goodies so far.
Have you read the Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao? What did you think of it? I would love to know. Thanks for reading. Katie x