I know everybody is exhausted by my Castellanos Moya binge but I’m obsessed with this author and won’t quit.
I’ve been trying to get this book all through the lockdown but it’s easier to get in English translation (that has it hideously titled She-Devil in the Mirror) than in the original.
Finally, I managed to get it from the interlibrary loans department which is still working in a sporadic sort of way.
La diabla is unlike any novel by this author that I’ve read. It’s a first-person narrative – which Castellanos Moya often does – but it’s not by a neurotic man. This time, the narrator is a self-assured, gossipy woman who becomes neurotic only in the contrived and clumsy ending.
Castellanos Moya was clearly trying to be didactic in this novel but his talent ran away from him and didn’t let him come up with boring cardboard characters. Instead, Castellanos Moya created in La diabla one of the most interesting, endearing and realistic female characters in all of Latin American literature. Laura Rivera is not a positive character but I call her endearing because she’s a normal woman who is interested in her friends, men, sex, restaurants, and gossip. She’s not a weepy victim like most women in Latin American literature. To the contrary, even when she suffers, she is amazingly self-assured.
In its technical aspects, the novel isn’t Castellanos Moya’s best by far. But the Laura character – while not completely original (Cinco horas con Mario, a Spanish Franco-era novel is very similar) – is fascinating and so much fun to read about.