Review: This Too Shall Pass by Milena Busquets

I received an advanced review copy of this title from the publisher through Netgalley.

My Review:
This Too Shall PassThe blurb that describes this book on sites like Goodreads and Amazon really sells the book short.  One gets the impression that this is a light, summer beach read,  a book categorized as “chick-lit.”  This particular classification of genre, “chick-lit” has always made me uncomfortable.  It seems to imply, at least in my mind, that females read these lighter, less serious books, ones meant for the beach or for times when ones attention is not fully given because the children are running around.  This genre also seems to imply a certain amount of gratuitous sex.  But Blanca’s story about the death of her mother and her very complicated love life are much more complex than to be classified as “chick-lit.”

The entire book is written as a letter from the main character, Blanca, to her mother who has just passed away.  Blanca is forty years-old, twice divorced and has one son with each ex-husband.  The death of her mother has caused her to not only feel grief, but also to experience a deep sense of loneliness.  Even though Blanca is constantly surrounded by loved ones, her children, her friends, her ex-husbands, a sense of loneliness pervades every scene in the book.  We get the feeling that her relationship with her mother, right up to her dying days,  was very complicated.

Blanca decides to leave Barcelona for a summer seaside vacation to Cadaqués where her mother’s home is.  Even though she is consumed by sadness, the memories of childhood summers in Cadaqués and being surrounded by her mother’s things are a comfort to Blanca.  When she arrives at her mother’s house, the first item she encounters is a jacket that her mother always wore.  She is not sure what she should do with it, but by the end of the novel she brings it to the dry cleaners which act is symbolic of finally letting go of her grief.

Another theme that pervades the book is intimacy, both sexual and emotional. After her mother’s death,  Blanca craves physical affection and begins having sex with Oscar, one of her ex-husbands.  But she recognizes that this is a temporary situation to ease her sorrow.  Blanca is also having an illicit affair with a married man who also shows up in Cadaqués.  Her mother’s death makes her reevaluate all of the intimate relationships in her life and Blanca comes to the realization that this affair is not satisfying her emotional needs.  One of the best parts of the book is when she blurts out to the man with whom she is having the affair that they should break it off.  I saw this as Blanca finally coming out of her fog of grief, asserting her independence, and recognizing her self-worth.

In sum, this book brings up important issues about grief and how we deal with the loss of an important role-model in our lives.  Blanca comes to understand that her friends and her family are her true support system and these relationships will help her get over the loss of her mother.  As the plot of the book progressed, I became more invested not only in Blanca’s story, but also in the other lively characters in the book.  Her two best friends, her sons, and her ex-husbands, all of whom have very different personalities, made up a very amusing cast of characters.  I would recommend taking this book to the beach, but you will need to give it your undivided attention to fully appreciate the deeper messages about dealing with loss.

About the Author:
M BusquetsMilena Busquets was born in Barcelona in 1972. She attended the Lycée Français de Barcelone and obtained a degree in Archaeology from the Institute of Archaeology in University College London. She worked for many years at Editorial Lumen, the publishing house that her family had set up in the early 1960s and that was sold to Random House forty years later. She later founded her own publishing house, wrote a first novel, worked for a gossip magazine and in PR for a fashion brand and currently works as a journalist and as a translator.

12 Comments

Filed under Summer Reading

12 responses to “Review: This Too Shall Pass by Milena Busquets

  1. Great review. I hate it that they have to market the books as chicklit to get sales – it probably puts a lot of people off the book who would enjoy it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kat

    Oh, I was looking at this only the other day! I’m very curious to see what they’re marketing as “chick lit,” and think they are now assigning these cute covers to more serious women’s fiction. As soon as I saw it was translated from the Spanish I was curious about it. I picked out a bunch of books with similar covers and guess what? Two of the four have been reviewed in the NYT.

    I’ll add this one to the TBR.

    Like

  3. You’re good at introducing me to new books and authors! The protagonist and her stage of life appeal to me in this one

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have only just found you, but I’m glad I did. Congratulations on a new follower! (: Also, just though that I’d tell you; you misspelled ‘blurb’ in your review.

    Like

  5. This has a much less ‘chick lit’ cover in the UK. I always think that I might never have picked up Elena Ferrante based on covers alone.
    Your review of the novel also made me think of this poem:
    http://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/poetry/poems/sorting-through

    Liked by 1 person

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