Trigger warning for rape and domestic violence.
I was drawn to Blue Flowers, by Carola Saavedra (and translated by Daniel Hahn) because of its premise. In this short novel, a man reads letters meant for the previous tenant of his new apartment. The letters reveal the end of a tempestuous relationship and the man, Marcos, can’t help but reflect on his own failed relationships with women. I was not prepared for what Saavedra did with this premise. The relationship described by the female letter writer is a lot darker than I was prepared for. My other issue with this novel is that the writing style is exhaustingly overwritten from my perspective. Even though the book is just over 208 pages, I would have liked it a lot more if it was half the length and more tightly written.
A, the writer of the letters Marcos finds in his mailbox, seems to be the kind of person who wants a relationship in which both people live for each other. It became clear to me that A was much more in love than her lover was. She can never do anything right, no matter how hard she tries to please her boyfriend. Her comments annoy her lover. All I can tell about him is that he wants a girlfriend who can make coffee to his exacting standards and who can intuit his emotional needs. He does not want a woman who has emotional needs of her own. I can understand all this. What I had a hard time with was A’s inability to clearly articulate what it is she wants from her love. For all her words, I could not figure out what A was talking about most of the time.
I understood Marcos, the letter reader, better—although I didn’t like him much. He, like the object of A’s love, is a very selfish man. He just can’t understand all these needy women around him (his ex-wife, his daughter, and his lover). What is it with all these women needing attention and affirmation and whatnot? I feel that Marcos begins to realize the depth of his selfishness as he reads A’s letters. These letters are probably the first time Marcos has really thought about things from someone else’s point of view.
I don’t want to condemn this book because I didn’t like how it was written or its content. Blue Flowers was not the book for me. I have firm opinions about what I like and what I don’t. Other readers might like Blue Flowers or find it meaningful. For the life of me, I have no idea who those readers might be, but they must be out there considering the buzz I’ve been reading about this book.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, for review consideration.