The Invisible Mountain traces the lives of three generations of women and the turbulent history of South America. The rarity of a novel exploring women's lineage is compelling on its own, but adding the elements of political uprisings and rebels like Che Guevara makes it exemplary. It will keep you in tears half the time, but it will also inspire you to follow your passion.
The story begins with a miracle named Pajarita and the town of Tacuarembo, Uruguay. Pajarita's mother dies in birth and her father curses her existence. One night she disappears and is assumed dead, but in Tacuarembo miracles happen every first day of the century. Hours into the dawn of 1900, Pajarita is found alive and happy in the heights of a tree no ladder can reach or person can climb. At less than a year old, the fact she survived is only part of the miracle, the other part is when the wind shook her free into the arms of her loving aunt.
She was the miracle child, strong enough, as a baby, to survive in the hills or trees without a family. What would this mean for a husband?”
Pajarita grows into a strong woman with knowledge of botany and a strong healing power. She falls in love with an immigrant Venetian gondola maker who is hustling his way in this new land by traveling with circus performers. Their love isn't always easy, but it brings Pajarita a handful of sons and one beautiful daughter named Eva.
Eva was an acutely curious baby.
? She loved things that glowed or glittered, like Pajarita's jade bracelet, bright bits of sun on water, the beam of the lighthouse as it slunk along night rocks.”
Beautiful in stature and soul, Eva is one of the most interesting and well-written characters in the book. Beauty has not always made life easy; after being raped by her father's friend at eleven, she finds herself the object of assault more than the object of love. She finds happiness in writing poetry and smoky nights with a group of poets and her childhood friend, Andres. Following Andres to Buenos Aires, Argentina, Eva discovers a strange new city and role model: Eva Duarte, the well-known Evita. After being disserted and denied by Andres, Eva finds herself rescued by a sympathetic doctor and gets married. Helping with the birth of her daughter Salome, Eva meets young medical student, Ernesto Guevara.
He cocked his head and stared at her with new intensity. Footsteps rang out in the hall, then faded. He looked at the baby again. He was quite handsome. Eva wondered whether this was his first birth.
'Salome,' he said slowly, as if tasting the word. 'What will she do?'
?'You can do anything, Salome. Change the world, the course of history. It's all possible.'”
It may have been fate or it may have been Che's inspirational words to the newborn, but Salome's life is historic. Back in Montevido, Uruguay, the town of the invisible mountain, Salome grows older, attends school, and gets a taste for revolution. Cuba is uprising with the help of Castro, Che is roaming South America giving inspirational speeches, and Salome is keeping rifles under her bed and attending underground meetings. She finds short-lived love in fellow Tupamaros liberator, Tinto, but after a bank heist the group is found, tortured, and imprisoned. Salome become pregnant and gives birth in a dank cell. Her baby is smuggled out, but she remains a political prisoner for fifteen years.
If, thought Salome, lying in her cell. If, in fact, it could be true that her whole life would not drag out here in prison, that she would not die between these thick gray walls, that the regime could change and she could walk the streets again ? then what?”
The world is new and tenuous after so many years, but Salome finds a family waiting for her. Pajarita and Ignazio are still together, Eva is still with her mysterious lover, and even one remnant of the rebel group is in town publishing political sentiments, but her daughter is far away in California being raised by her brother and his wife. It takes a long time for Pajarita to face her daughter, Victoria, a woman who now carries on the legacy, but when she does the story comes full circle.
Carolina De Robertis has created a heartbreaking and intelligent novel. There are some intriguing histories of the men, but the story revolves around the women. I recommend reading the first few pages again after you finish, because the novel starts off with Salome, but you don't realize that until the end. This is historical fiction at its finest. Be sure to keep a box of tissues handy and be ready for more than a few surprises. The Invisible Mountain will quickly sweep you away, and you will long to search the horizon for a mountain, which isn't quite a mountain, yet is one anyway.