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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Thursday Night Widows

Claudia Piñeiro

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To purchase Thursday Night Widows

Title: Thursday Night Widows
Author: Claudia Piñeiro
Genre: Novel
Written: 2005 (Eng. 2009)
Length: 274 pages
Original in: Spanish
Availability: Thursday Night Widows - US
Las viudas de los jueves - US
Thursday Night Widows - UK
Thursday Night Widows - Canada
Thursday Night Widows - India
Les Veuves du jeudi - France
Die Donnerstagswitwen - Deutschland
Le vedove del giovedì - Italia
Las viudas de los jueves - España
  • Spanish title: Las viudas de los jueves
  • Translated by Miranda France
  • Las viudas de los jueves was made into a film in 2009, directed by irected by Marcelo Piñeyro

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Our Assessment:

B : decent social portrait of Argentine society leading up the economic crisis (there) of 2001

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
El Cultural A 27/9/2007 Ernesto Calabuig
Publishers Weekly . 26/10/2009 .

  From the Reviews:
  • "Es una de esas historias en las que el concienzudo detalle de un microcosmos (la vida cotidiana de una elitista e hiperlujosa urbanización en las afueras de Buenos Aires en los tiempos revueltos de 2001) logra elevarse a categoría universal: a lúcida explicación del modo de vida contemporáneo y metáfora de un tiempo convulso e inseguro." - Ernesto Calabuig, El Cultural

  • "Readers with an interest in contemporary Argentina will appreciate how this crime novel illuminates the hypocrisies of the country's upper classes after 9/11." - Publishers Weekly

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:

       Thursday Night Widows is set in a gated community called Cascade Heights, near Buenos Aires. The novel opens in late September, 2001 -- shortly after the terrorist attacks on the United States, but also in the midst of Argentina's spiral into a disastrous financial crisis. Piñeiro doesn't take long before really grabbing the reader's attention, as a few pages into her story she describes first how one man injures himself, and then how one of the women wakes up late at night and briefly goes outside:

She walked slowly, taking care not to let the glasses knock against each other again, and oblivious to the knowledge that the rest of us would learn about the next day: beneath the warm water, sinking to the bottom of the pool, were the bodies of her husband and his friends, and all three of them were dead.
       But Thursday Night Widows isn't so much a mystery-thriller as a portrait of a small community: the bodies are left lying there, and it takes a very long time before Piñeiro gets around to them again. Yes, Thursday Night Widows is the story of how it came to these deaths, but to get to that Piñeiro feels obliged to fill in all the background and details -- as it is this background, of life in this gated community, a supposed haven, that leads to the deaths.
       So most of Thursday Night Widows describes the past few years at Cascade Heights, from various characters' perspectives, both in the first and third person. Cascade Heights is literally a world apart, as Piñeiro details how they have managed to wall themselves off from the world at large; cleverly and claustrophobically she restricts almost all the action to this enclosed playground and home of the relatively wealthy, going on at considerable length about everything from the security measures to the law of this patch of land -- as many disputes are handled on-site, and without the involvement of the police. Much of Thursday Night Widows is like any utopian novel, carefully and (often too) closely describing how the community functions and evolves, and how the local rules and mores and expectations influence behavior and what the unintended consequences are.
       The characters include some strong personalities, such as El Tano Scaglia, a man: "sure always to obtain everything that he wanted from life. From death, too", and a woman who becomes a real estate agent specializing in Cascade Heights properties. There's also a couple that adopts two children, and Piñeiro describes how the mother tries to make them blend in (successfully in the case of one child, not in the case of the other), and another family whose son doesn't quite manage to fit in, as shown repeatedly over the years.
       The declining economy in the 1990s also hits some of the families, as some of the men loses their jobs and financial problems grow more pressing. By 2001 the situation has gotten particularly bad, with one family planning to uproot itself and try to start anew in Miami, despite the fact that they don't speak any English: anything looks more promising than Argentina at that point.
       And so, eventually (but very slowly) it comes to the swimming-pool deaths. But by announcing them right at the start Piñeiro sets the expectations very high, and while the resolution is perfectly adequate, it feels like quite a letdown after such a long wait: Thursday Night Widows dresses itself up as a mystery-thriller, but is really something entirely different. A shame that Piñeiro invests so much in the mystery-approach, because most of the way the book works just fine as social commentary and a description of an era.
       Quite well done, but the genre-confusion detracts from the book's many more successful parts.

- M.A.Orthofer, 28 March 2010

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Thursday Night Widows: Reviews: Las viudas de los jueves - the film: Other books by Claudia Piñeiro under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Argentine author Claudia Piñeiro was born in 1960.

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