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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Inventing Love

José Ovejero

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To purchase Inventing Love

Title: Inventing Love
Author: José Ovejero
Genre: Novel
Written: 2013 (Eng. 2017)
Length: 219 pages
Original in: Spanish
Availability: Inventing Love - US
La invención del amor - US
Inventing Love - UK
Inventing Love - Canada
La invención del amor - España
  • Spanish title: La invención del amor
  • Translated by Simon Deefholts and Kathryn Phillips-Miles
  • Premio Alfaguara, 2013

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Our Assessment:

B : nicely done exploration of relationships and identity

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
El Cultural . 7/6/2013 S. Sanz Villanueva

  From the Reviews:
  • "Al hilo de estos seres atractivos, examinados con la lupa de un buen observador de conciencias y que garantizan al lector un primordial disfrute, van surgiendo variados asuntos: la identidad, la mentira, el miedo, el dolor, las relaciones familiares y personales, el trabajo... Tales cuestiones proporcionan a la novela la densidad de una reflexión existencialista muy verídica, directa y con mucha frecuencia emocionante al renovar Ovejero algunos planteamientos casi consustanciales a ese enfoque." - Santos Sanz Villanueva, El Cultural

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       The premise of Inventing Love is clever: the narrator, Samuel, at age forty still leads a somewhat aimless, unattached life, which is shaken up when he receives an early morning call telling him his girlfriend Clara died in a car accident -- the twist being that he doesn't know any (and certainly not this) Clara. Instead of clearing up the misunderstanding, Samuel goes with it, pretending to be the grieving lover, even attending the funeral. There's clearly been some misunderstanding -- the married Clara's lover was also married, and this Samuel isn't, for example -- but no one in her family or circle seems to have met the mystery man, so Samuel can get away with playing the role.
       Work isn't particularly satisfying for Samuel either. He's a part-owner -- but only a small part -- in a supply company suffering some in the weak economy. The death of his girlfriend gives him an excuse to devote even less time to work, which he fully takes advantage of; meanwhile, his partner considers selling the whole company -- but the ones offering to buy it up are clearly not entirely aboveboard.
       Clara's sister, Carina, is curious about Samuel and his relationship with the dead woman, and Samuel continues to play the role, embracing it Slowly, he learns more about Clara -- but having to pretend to be the cad that Clara's Samuel was undermines his chances with Carina, whom he is drawn to -- finding at some point, for example:

The other Samuel has taken over my life and is making me pay for impersonating him.
       In fact, eventually Samuel figures out who the other Samuel is, and in several encounters learns more about his side of the relationship with Clara. (He is also the one who reveals to the other Samuel that Clara is dead -- cruelly reshaping that story as well.)
       While the premise of Inventing Love makes for sustained suspense -- can Samuel keep up the ruse ? will he be discovered ? would it matter ? -- it is in some ways also only secondary. The novel is a meditation on identity and relationships in a much larger sense, with Ovejero effectively using the absent figure -- someone who Samuel knew literally nothing about -- whose blanks are slowly filled in. Carina and the other Samuel fill out the Clara-character-portrait, and Samuel himself also imagines and presents versions of her life to Carina -- an interesting exercise in how we see others, and what we make of them.
       Adult and independent, Sebastian also comes to realize how he lacks a certain maturity, coasting through adulthood without deeper connections or much sense of purpose. The games he plays invigorate him, leading him to see that he should change his ways -- as he plans to, at its conclusion.
       A clever idea, and well-realized -- including in some unexpected ways -- and a solid novel by a writer obviously comfortable with the craft.

- M.A.Orthofer, 17 May 2017

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Inventing Love: Reviews: José Ovejero: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Spanish author José Ovejero was born in 1958.

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© 2017-2022 the complete review

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