Departing at Dawn

“Departing at Dawn” by Gloria Lisé (Argentina)


With its subtitle “A Novel of Argentina’s Dirty War”, readers said they found the story to be completely different from what they had imagined. Instead of getting details of the horrors of a military dictatorship, which is what they had been expecting, readers felt they were given an introspective and interesting look at life in that context from an ordinary person’s point of view. They liked the fact that most of the story is set in the countryside at the homes of the protagonist’s relatives and they found the descriptions of both the places and the people highly effective: they said it gave them a clear picture of how people deal with extremely difficult situations. Readers enjoyed the passages about how Berta’s aunt Avelina meets her husband. They also particularly liked the character of the midwife Dona Lupe and the scene where she brings Berta to assist her with a birth. One reader felt that some of the devices the author uses to convey information were a bit implausible at times, for example the letter Berta writes to her best friend, but she made allowances for this since it is the author’s first novel. Overall, it averaged an 8.1 out of 10.


March 23, 1976. Berta watches as her lover, Atilio, a union organizer, is thrown from a window to his death on the sidewalk below. The next day, Colonel Jorge Rafael Videla stages a coup d’état and a military dictatorship takes control of Argentina. Though never a part of Atilio’s union efforts, Berta is on a list to be “disappeared” and flees to relatives in the countryside… Read more

Nicola’s Book Club reading list 

Season 16 – “Journeys in Time” (Sep 2012 – Jan 2013)

“Malinche” by Laura Esquivel (Mexico)
“Pure” by Andrew Miller (U.K.)
“Black Mamba Boy” by Nadifa Mohamed (Somalia) *
“Map of the Invisible World” by Tash Aw (Malaysia)
“Departing at Dawn” by Gloria Lisé (Argentina)

* The book club favourite
In italics, Nicola’s Coup de Cœur

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