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Dora, Doralina by Rachel De Queiroz
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Dora, Doralina (edition 1984)

by Rachel De Queiroz (Author), Dorothy Scott Loos (Translator)

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671178,380 (3.5)4
Member:EnriqueFreeque
Title:Dora, Doralina
Authors:Rachel De Queiroz (Author)
Other authors:Dorothy Scott Loos (Translator)
Info:Avon Books (Mm) (1984), Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Your library (inactive)
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Tags:brazilian lit

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Dora, Doralina by Rachel de Queiroz

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Dora, Doralina tells the story of Maria das Dores who grows up under the thumb of her controlling mother and endures an unhappy marriage before running off to be an actress and finding love. Dora’s narrative captures the mood of the cloistered estate of her mother and the topsy-turvy life as part of a travelling theater troupe. However, I found her to be passive and unformed (though initially this is probably due to being overshadowed by her mother all her life). Even when she’s off on her own, though, she doesn’t develop much. I liked the book and got into the plot but it wasn’t love.

Initially, we’re introduced to Dora’s mother and husband. At first it’s difficult to tell what her relationship is to her mother, called Senhora by her and everyone else. Is she her mother-in-law? Stepmother? No, her real mother. Senhora is passive-aggressive and controlling and the mutual dislike is manifested by coldness, repression and occasional biting comments. Laurindo, Dora’s husband, isn’t in the story that much – representative of the coolness in the marriage. It’s unhappy but most of the time not miserable. Senhora remains a dominant and unknownable figure through the whole book and the airless atmosphere of their estate out in the Brazilian backwoods is well-portrayed. The first section is in sharp contrast to the second, where Dora falls in with a theater group run by the imperious, generous, larger-than-life impresario Seu Brandini and his tactful, pragmatic wife Estrela, a fading actress. The highs and lows, the glory and the poverty of the theater make this a fun section to read. The side characters provide liveliness as well.

However, I started to notice in the second section that Dora mostly watches everyone else. When she mentions characteristics about herself, like that she is vain, I thought – she is? Didn’t notice. She’s overshadowed by her mother (understandable and part of the plot) but then by most of the other characters. She meets her true love the Captain and then she pretty much lives for him and spends her time in the rest of the book describing his exploits. The past, and her secrets, occasionally pop up in the plot but don’t really change anything. The book ends with the end of their relationship. At one point, Dora notes that she worshiped the Captain and it may have not been healthy, but she doesn’t care. She gives up her career for him (even though she liked acting, she pretended she didn’t for him) and always tries to minimize annoying him or prevent his alcohol-related problems. A couple times she uses the ‘helpless woman’ stereotype for her own purposes, but it’s still to help the Captain. Also, there was one part where she pretty much says a woman can’t be raped which bothered me. I’ve enjoyed books about women living quiet conventional lives, but usually there’s more introspection. Dora tends to describe events rather than analyzing them. Still, the book was pleasant enough. ( )
2 vote DieFledermaus | Jan 16, 2012 |
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