I discovered Perez-Reverte ages ago with THE CLUB DUMAS which was made into a horrific movie featuring Johnny Depp. His writing is beautifully descriptive and fluid. He’s written stand-alones as well as the series featuring Captain Alatriste. Perez -Reverte is an auto buy for me. However, as much as I love his writing I couldn’t connect with Max and Mencha, the leads in his latest stand alone that spans over four decades, WHAT WE BECOME. There’s a first time for everything and this was one.
En route from Lisbon to Buenos Aires in 1928, Max and Mecha meet aboard a luxurious transatlantic cruise ship. There Max teaches the stunning stranger and her erudite husband to dance the tango. A steamy affair ignites at sea and continues as the seedy decadence of Buenos Aires envelops the secret lovers.
Nice, 1937. Still drawn to one another a decade later, Max and Mecha rekindle their dalliance. In the wake of a perilous mission gone awry, Mecha looks after her charming paramour until a deadly encounter with a Spanish spy forces him to flee.
Sorrento, 1966. Max once again runs into trouble—and Mecha. She offers him temporary shelter from the KGB agents on his trail, but their undeniable attraction offers only a small glimmer of hope that their paths will ever cross again.
Arturo Pérez-Reverte is at his finest here, offering readers a bittersweet, richly rendered portrait of a powerful, forbidden love story that burns brightly over forty years, from the fervor of youth to the dawn of old age. (synopsis from Amazon)
He also deftly manages to bring the decadence and glamour of each era to life for readers
WHAT WE BECOME flits through time following Max and Mecha through forty years from their first meeting aboard a cruise ship to Buenos Aires in 1928 to Sorrento in 1966.
Perez-Reverte is one of my favorite writers and an auto buy. His characters are always rich, revealing themselves over the course of the story. Max and Mecha are no exception, except that I felt I never knew Mecha as well as Max. Parts of her seemed veiled, elusive; or perhaps it’s that I saw her filtered through Max.
He also deftly manages to bring the decadence and glamour of each era to life for readers, as he tells their story in a back and forth fashion, unfolding slowly as bits and pieces are revealed in each era, akin to a tapestry.
As with every Perez-Reverte there’s always something specific the characters revolve around, that brings them together, in this case it’s tango, dance. I always learn so much when I read his books.
Since all the elements I so enjoy were present it’s beyond me why WHAT WE BECOME didn’t have the usual effect on me. Typically, whenever I pick up a Perez-Reverte I resent my inability to simply do nothing but read through to the end. That didn’t happen this time, and try as I might there was never a connection with Max and Mencha. I’m flummoxed.
WHAT WE BECOME is everything I expect from Perez-Reverte, writing wise, yet Max and Mencha fell flat for me. They didn’t engage me as his leads usually do. I enjoyed the story but never experienced the immersion into their world.
So, for writing I give WHAT WE BECOME 4 stars. Purely personal for the effect, or lack of, on me, 3 stars.