Tuesday, March 08, 2011

In the times of the butterflies

By Julia Alvarez

This was our book club read for the month of February. I’d call this an okay book. It held my curiosity till the end so in that respect it was engaging but it didn’t satisfy my hunger even after the end so that wasn’t acceptable.

It would have been okay if it was a fictional piece and then the incomplete details would be luxuriously filled in through lingering imaginations but the fact that this a story based on true accounts of the Mirabel sisters made that possibility bleak. It’s a story set in the Dominican Republic in the 40s and the 50s with the revolution that was about to overthrow the dictator. The three Mirabel sisters were the heroines of this story and their death anniversary is still celebrated in that part of the world.

I guess it was authors attempt to show the human life behind these celebrated heroines but in the process of humanizing them she stripped them of the passion that led them to be what they were. In the novel it seemed they were at the right place at the right time or vice versa; and they didn’t actively play a role in shaping the future. Except for maybe Minerva who had idealistic political views, the other sisters were just caught in the humdrum or so it seems. I wanted to know what ticked these women besides the fact the dictator was a womanizer or that he killed all male members of a family who were planning a coup. Any practical ‘animal’ would go for these things, sex and power are not taboo words in a dictators dictionary but what was it that ticked common people to raise arms against him, what was the role of the communist parties in the region, why did the revolution fail, what were the exact plan of the revolutionaries after the dictator was gone. If these women chose to join the revolution then there must be others who were suffering from the dictators tyranny and did nothing against it, where was the contrast that their lives provided. All these topics were untouched.

And I hung on till the end because I wanted to know what aspect of the sisters’ passion/life threatened the dictator so much that he had them killed even when supposedly they were under house arrest and wasn’t part of the revolution anymore.

Through this book, I learned something about Dominican Republic and am curious to find out more and it did talk in great detail about the girls that became the celebrated Mirabel sisters but it left out the most important detail that caused the change within them…

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