Carl, Willi and Blanche

By Barbara de la Cuesta

Rating:  star star star star star 

IR Verdict:

Book Reviews, eBooks, Fiction, Literary Fiction  •  Jan 07, 2013

Carl, Willi and Blanche, in the process of traveling across Mexico (having left the US to protest oppressive wars and cruelty on the part of our government), are stranded in a small village by a car breakdown.

Over the next several months, as they put down roots and eventually build a farm, they find themselves getting more and more involved with local life and politics (and in Carl’s case, platonically involved with the beautiful, kind and educated Doña Luz), changing their lives and perspectives forever.

“Carl, Willi and Blanche” is beautifully evocative in its description – a reader feels present in the scene, tasting the mangoes or feeling the heat in the air, anticipating the rains. The setting is exquisitely delineated, making even the common actions and events of daily life into something rich, full, and worth savoring. The characters’ personalities unfold naturally, through their interactions with others, and most characters, even the minor ones, are three-dimensional and real (with the singular and rather sad exception of Blanche, who seems rather stereotypically languid).

The plot has a tendency to drift amiably on, making the dramatic events of the last few chapters seem just another extension of the daily life of the characters.  This can be either one of the book’s great strengths or a major weakness, depending on the reader’s perspective and priorities – if you like a fast-moving and exciting story, this is probably not your book, but if you enjoy spending time with pleasant characters in a lovely place, you might like it very much. A good copy-editor could also do wonders for this book – the typos and format errors were sometimes distracting. However, the book can nevertheless reward the thoughtful reader with a richly-drawn image of life and politics in rural Mexico.

Reviewed by Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader