Published by New Harvest ISBN 978-0-544-26217-1
Hardcover, $24, 304 pages
Years ago I read Ann Patchett's haunting novel, Bel Canto, about a group of people kidnapped by terrorists at a party at the home of the vice-president in a South American country. I can vividly recall sitting on my porch mesmerized by the characters and the story.
When I heard about Natalia Sylvester's debut novel, Chasing the Sun, which tells the story of an industrialist's wife's kidnapping in Peru, I was curious to read it. Sylvester lived in Lima, Peru and her novel is inspired by a family member who was kidnapped.
In Peru, kidnappings are an almost common occurrence. Wealthy people live behind walls and gates, and many have security. Andres owns a label factory, and his family, wife Marabela, teenage son Ignacio and young daughter Cynthia live a good life. The children go to private school, and Marabela volunteers for many charities and is close to the women who cook and clean for them.
Things between Marabela and Andres are not good. Four months ago Marabela disappeared, unhappy with her marriage. She returned because she couldn't leave her children. When Marabela doesn't return home after an errand, Andres fears she run away again.
But this time Andres gets a call from a man; they have kidnapped Marabela and want one million dollars in ransom. Andres doesn't have that kind of money, and his wealthy mother sends over a man who helps people deal with kidnappers.
As the story unfolds and Andres deals with the kidnappers and the facilitator, he tries to hide the situation from his children, his employees and their friends. He discovers that his childhood friend Elena is in a hospital after a suicide attempt following her own kidnapping. From her, he learns something shocking and saddening.
Part two deals with the aftermath of the kidnapping. We don't have first hand knowledge of what happened to Marabela, we only get bits of the torment she suffered. Andres hopes that they can pick up the pieces of their life together and move forward, but Marabela isn't so sure she can or even if she wants to.
I enjoy reading about places and cultures I don't have much knowledge of, and with Sylvester's growing up in Lima, we get an insider's view. I can't imagine living with the constant fear that you could be grabbed off the street.
I also like reading about the Peruvian dishes, like tallarines verdes, a pesto-like sauce served with steak. It makes me want to read more about it, and maybe even make it for dinner.
Chasing the Sun drops the reader into the lives of this upper middle class Peruvian family during a crisis. Although the kidnapping propels the story, this is a more personal story about a marriage unraveling. Andres loves Marabela and desperately wants to love the life they have build together, but things and people from their past come bubbling up to the surface and try to pull them apart. Fans of Bel Canto will find much to appreciate in this debut novel.
rating 4 of 5
Thanks to TLC Tours for putting me on this tour. The rest of Natalia Sylvester's tour is here.
Natalia Sylvester’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:
Monday, June 2nd: Book-alicous Mama
Tuesday, June 3rd: Book Lust
Tuesday, June 3rd: A Bookish Way of Life
Wednesday, June 4th: Bookchickdi
Wednesday, June 4th: The Lost Entwife
Thursday, June 5th: Sidewalk Shoes
Friday, June 6th: Bibliotica
Monday, June 9th: Sarah’s Book Shelves
Tuesday, June 10th: 5 Minutes for Books
Wednesday, June 11th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Thursday, June 12th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Friday, June 13th: Book Hooked Blog
Monday, June 16th: Books a la Mode – Guest post
Monday, June 16th: Lit and Life
Tuesday, June 17th: My Bookshelf
Wednesday, June 18th: Between the Covers
Thursday, June 19th: Read. Write. Repeat.
Friday, June 20th: Snowdrop Dreams of Books
Monday, June 23rd: Love at First Book
Tuesday, June 24th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Wednesday, June 25th: A Bookish Affair
Thursday, June 26th: Kritter’s Ramblings