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Santa Evita: Edición conmemorativa by…
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Santa Evita: Edición conmemorativa (original 1995; edition 2014)

by Tomás Eloy Martínez (Author)

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5401429,712 (3.6)63
From one of Latin America's finest writers comes a mesmerizing novel about the legendary Eva Peron. Bigger than fiction, Eva Peron was the poor-trash girl who reinvented herself as a beauty, snared Argentina's dictator, reigned as uncrowned queen of the masses, and was struck down by cancer. When her desperate but foxy husband brings Europe's leading embalmer to Eva's deathbed to make her immortal, the fantastical comedy begins.… (more)
Member:hnn
Title:Santa Evita: Edición conmemorativa
Authors:Tomás Eloy Martínez (Author)
Info:ALFAGUARA (2014), 291 pages
Collections:Your library, Kindle
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Santa Evita by Tomás Eloy Martínez (1995)

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English (12)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  All languages (14)
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
An interesting book that focuses on what happened to Eva Peron's embalmed corpse from her death until it was finally buried in Buenos Aires two decades later after residing in the intelligence headquarters, a movie theater, an attic, a burial plot in Milan, Spain and then back to Argentina.

The story is told through the often contradictory perspectives of multiple and often unreliable and contradictory participants in the saga of the corpse with lots of flashbacks to her life and links between her life and her death. The author, Tomas Eloy Martinez, is himself a character, describing his writing of the book, defending it against critics, and putting it into the context of his previous book, The Peron Novel.

The book is thick with depictions of Peronism, a military state, paranoia, cult worship, madness, and uncertainty about reality. But it also meanders around a bit without fully connecting with the circle of characters around the corpse and without a story that sometimes spirals into tangents that feel irrelevant or difficult to follow. At the end, the Evita of the musical still leaves an overpowering impression that is barely displaced by the Santa Evita depicted in this book. ( )
  nosajeel | Jun 21, 2014 |
I can't tell if this is fiction or not. I kept checking the cover for "Santa Evita : A Novel" but the "A Novel" part was never there. The title page has it listed under the Library of Congress as 'fiction' ... but I'd have to do much more (extensive!) research to make a determination.

Before I read this what I'd known of Evita was the disney-fied version of Andrew Llyod Weber/Tim Rice in their musical 'Evita' - this opened up whole new doors over who Eva Duarte Peron was, and what she meant to the country of Argentina. Even if this is a piece of historical fiction ... it's worth the read because I do think that it helps one to understand the mindset of the Argentinians at the time both before and after Eva Peron's death.

Excellent read. ( )
  steadfastreader | Mar 18, 2014 |
Santa Evita is a combination of fact, fiction, and fantasy about what happened to Eva Peron's body after her death. Adored by the poor of Argentina, Eva represented the hope and possibilities of the downtrodden who could maybe someday follow her meteoric path from a poor uneducated illegitimate child to the spiritual leader of her country. And her corpse was definitely a liability for the factions that opposed Peron. The true story behind what happened to Evita's body is fascinating. She was embalmed for display, but when Peron was overthrown by the military 3 years after her death, the military took her body to remove it as a symbol for Peronists. The body was stored in a van, behind the screen in a movie theater, in a warehouse and many other bizarre locations before it was buried anonymously in Italy. It was finally returned to Argentina after Peron came back into power. The novel creatively fills in the gap of what could have happened to Evita. Interesting story! ( )
  jmoncton | Dec 2, 2013 |
"But who is this Santa Evita?
Why all this howling, hysterical sorrow?
What kind of goddess has lived among us?
How will we ever get by without her?"
- “Oh What A Circus” from “Evita”
(all the words in bold & italics are excerpts of verses from "Oh What A Circus")

Santa Evita by Tomas Eloy Martinez

“But who is this Santa Evita?”
To the loyal Peronists of Argentina Eva Peron was a Queen, a Royal Mother, a Saint, a Savior. Anti-Peronistas paint a far different picture: an overly ambitious woman who slept and manipulated her way to the top, and once there, abused her power. Her detractors had many names for her: a derogatory term “the Mare,” or simply “that bitch.” At the beginning of this historical novel, President Juan Peron has been ousted from power and is living in exile. The perfectly preserved and embalmed body of Eva Peron is in the government offices being immaculately taken care of by the embalmer Peron hired, a self-described “anatomist,” Dr. Ara. This leaves the new powers-that-be with a conundrum: what to do with Evita? She is, at the moment, perceived as the biggest threat to the new government. They refer to her simply as “… that Woman,” “... the Package,” “… the Deceased.” “That woman is more dangerous dead than she was alive. The tyrant knew it and that’s why he left her here … In any and every hovel there are photographs of her. The ignorant worship her like a saint. They think she can come back to life any day now and turn Argentina into a dictatorship of beggars.”

“Your queen is dead/your king is through/She’s not coming back to you”
Immediately after Evita entered immortality in the spiritual sense, her husband, Pres. Juan Peron, went to great lengths to ensure her immortality in the physical sense. Dr. Ara was paid huge sums of money to preserve Evita. Dr. Ara considered Eva his work of art. “The embalmer’s account was glowing. He maintained that after the injections and the fixatives, Evita’s skin had turned taunt and young, like that of a twenty-year old. Through her arteries there flowed a current of formaldehyde, paraffain, and zinc chloride. The whole body gave off a delicate aroma of almonds and lavender. The Colonel could not keep his eyes off the photographs that showed an ethereal, ivory-colored creature, possessed of a beauty that made a person forget all the other felicities of the universe. Her own mother, dona Juana Ibarguen, thinking that she had heard her breathing, had fainted during one of her visits. The widower had kissed her on the lips twice to break a spell that was perhaps that same as Sleeping Beauty’s …”

“Oh what a circus, oh what a show”
The new powers that be decide that “that Woman” must be gotten rid of. She needs to disappear. Various plans are made of to dispose of her quietly, discreetly and most of all, secretly. Three high-ranking officers from the Army are called in to take over the mission. During the operation, it comes to light that two waxed figures of Eva have been made; wax figures so life-like that the only way to tell the real Evita from her doll-copies is to take X-rays. The Colonel in charge of the mission makes a little star-shaped mark behind one of Evita’s earlobes. Only he, and he alone, will know which cadaver is the real Evita. A definite plan is made. Under cover of darkness, three different trucks will carry the three different Eva’s to three different eternal resting places. New common names are given to the Evitas; Santa Evita seems to be destined for an eternity of anonymity. Forces of nature, of God, of Darkness, of Evita, won’t allow this to happen so new plans are made, plans that take the officers around Argentina and also overseas. Time after time these plans go awry. Most devastating to the covert plans are the impromptu funereal shrines that magically appear no matter where Eva is. No matter the amount of steps taken to ensure the secrecy of their mission, and no matter where Evita is: in her homeland or overseas, the candles and flowers appear. The “Commanders of Vengeance” make their presence known and demand their Queen back.

“We’ve all gone crazy/Mourning all day and mourning all night/Falling over ourselves …”
Given the importance of the operation, the three officers go to great lengths to hide Evita. Each one of them, in some point in the story, takes care of Evita personally. Each one of them will pay: to live with Evita is a guaranteed descent into madness and obsession. They fall in love with her; there is a strong implication of necrophilia. The very men who hated Evita and saw her only as a ridiculous problem no longer calll her “that Woman,” or “the Deceased,” but “Person,” and “my little Eva.” “He too called her Beloved Mother when despair alighted in his heart. Beloved Mother. She was there, a few steps away, and he couldn’t touch her…. The colonel had been torturing himself for months for allowing Evita to go away. Nothing had any meaning without her … He was sick at heart from missing her so badly.”

As the story progresses, the mission to give Evita a final resting place becomes a shell game. It becomes harder and harder to figure out who is in possession of the real Evita and who has her clones. Interspersed throughout the chapters is the narrator/author’s first hand account of his research for the book. It’s hard to tell whether the author/narrator is Martinez or a character he has invented. This, I think, is the lesson of this unique novel: the lines of history, memory, myth, fiction and non-fiction are blurred. Aren’t they always? “As you said, it’s a novel,” I explained. “In novels, what is true is also false. Author’s rebuild at night the same myths they’ve destroyed in the morning.”

This is the question I was left with when I put this book down: where do we draw the line between fiction and fact? Where is the line that separates memory from history, history from memory, memory from myth? “Little by little Evita began to turn into a story that, before it ended, kindled another. She ceased to be what she said and what she did to become what people say she said and what people say she did. As her memory became incarnate and people unfolded within that body the folds of their own memories … {it} was emptied of its history.”

Maybe that’s why Eva Peron is so fascinating. She is history. She is a memory. She is a myth. “Evita was an enormous net that went out to catch desires as though reality were a field of butterflies.”

“You let down your people Evita
You were supposed to have been
Immortal
That’s all they wanted, not much to ask for
But in the end you could not deliver…” ( )
6 vote avidmom | May 31, 2013 |
This complex book is well written and deftly translated. Its subject matter and style seem to place it squarely within the genre of magical realism, though much of the novel also seems to relate real facts apparently researched painstakingly by the author. It's always interesting to read, and at times amazing. ( )
  Laura400 | Oct 10, 2012 |
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