Tània Juste, Passatge al nou món [Passage to the new world], 2018, 366 p.
Barcelona harbour, 1918. The Reina Victoria Eugenia cruise ship is about to sail to Buenos Aires. On board Berta Casals walks through the first-class lounges, discovering everything for the first time. She is very nervous as this is a one-way journey to South America. A rich Argentinian she hardly knows, Don Julio Mitchell, waits for her to become his wife and to make Patagonia her new home. A life on the other side of the ocean. During the long voyage she meets Abel again, a guy she got to know in her life before, and she becomes friends with the daughter of a great dancer, Irina Alexandrovna. The two young women share conversations, complicities, and an unconfessable secret that seals their destiny for ever. Nearly 70 years later, Berta will explain the true story of this unforgettable crossing to her granddaughter Valentina.
Two unknown women become the protagonists of this high seas story; two souls that not only share an Atlantic crossing but also an essential part of their destiny.
«The orchestra begins to play on the walking deck. It is a melody that is meant to be happy, but some of the passengers already start to weep while the handkerchiefs fly in the wind and the bodies are bent increasingly worried towards the loved ones that stay behind on the dock. Her father. Berta urgently looks for him again, and immediately she finds him. He is standing there quietly, in a grey suit with a hat that he raises with one hand. The distance does not prevent her from seeing the solemnity of his face, that does not correspond with his stature, that seems so small from high above. With the ship’s first movement, Berta looks lucid like a beam of light. Here they go.»
Tània Juste (Barcelona, 1972) is a Geography and History graduate of Universitat de Barcelona. After a few years dedicated to the world of image and communication in the textile sector, she researched a historical epoch that fascinated her: the Barcelona of the 1920s and 30s. The studies of that period led to her first novel, A flor de pell [Skin deep] (2009). In 2012 she published Els anys robats [The stolen years], and in 2014, L’hospital dels pobres [The hospital of the poor], both with the Columna label. In 2015 the won the Premi Nèstor Luján for a historical novel with Temps de família [Family time].
from Julià Guillamon’s review:
Well documented –written, as one notes, with eagerness to do it right, to spend a good time and to have the readers spend a good time: it’s a novel written with joy–…
This blogger probably won’t read the book as the central idea doesn’t seem original; as to cruise ship travelling, he recently enjoyed David Foster Wallace’s “A supposedly fun thing I will never do again”.
SOURCE: Columna (Grup62, Planeta; publisher); review in “Cultura/s,” La Vanguardia, Aug. 11, 2018, p. 6 [printed edition]