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Te trataré como a una reina, Rosa Montero

This novel is one I had initially read in college, and it played an integral part in cementing my passion for contemporary Spanish literature.  Written by the great Rosa Montero, a famous novelist and writer for El País, this novel (translation: I’ll Treat You Like a Queen) is set in Madrid, in the Barrio Chino in a run-down night club, El Desiré.  We are introduced to the owner, Menéndez, the bolero singers Bella, and Vanessa and one of the bar’s regulars, Poco.  We learn about the connections they have with each other through the relationships they maintain between each other and those from outside the club.  We learn right away about a heinous crime that occurred: Bella throwing Antonio (her childhood love and friend) over the terrace of his fourth-floor flat.  What we don’t know until the very end of the novel is why.  This is what Montero does best: she hooks her readers from the beginning and keeps them engaged, wanting to know how the story unfolds.  This is no different in this novel. 


The underlying theme in this novel is solitude and the desperation for wanting to be with someone - anyone just to avoid dying alone.  We see this with each of the characters and how they handle this fear differently.  One thing they have in common, though, is the need to be in a relationship, even if they know their partner is fundamentally wrong for them.  It’s also the reason the reader may initially think was why Bella attacked Antonio.  But we must remember - this novel took place a few decades ago when men had more power and control over women.  This is evident as we see the power dynamics within many of the relationships, both between lovers and family. 


The title strikes me as the most interesting aspect.  It comes up a few times, by men making these promises to women.  Without ruining the premise, I will say, it seems ironic because each man that says it goes to hurt the woman down the line.  It’s a great reminder that words are words and do not necessarily always line up with actions.  I found this part fascinating.   


While I both love this book and strongly recommend it, it comes with a warning.  The content is quite mature and even at 21 years old first reading it, I was a bit shocked by some of the provocative parts.  I do recommend reading it but waiting till college at least, as I did, so the book not only is as scandalous as it would be if read earlier but because of the dynamics of the relationships between the characters.  When we are older and have more life experience, we can appreciate certain topics more and I feel like this book is a great example of this.   


So, if you’re 18 or over and have a high level of Spanish, then buy this book today!  You will not regret it. 



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