Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Altogether Unexpected Disappearance of Atticus Craftsman by Mamen Sánchez

The Altogether Unexpected Disappearance of Atticus Craftsman
Mamen Sánchez
translated by Lucy Greaves
5/5 stars

I was given this book by the Amazon Vine program in return for an honest review.

Atticus, son of Craftsman & Co, is sent away from his routine and out of his depth on a job to Madrid. The Craftsman & Co. literary ma
gazine, Librarte, is loosing money and Mr. Craftsman wants Atticus to fire the five employees and close it down. These five employees, ladies very different from each other who have bonded into a close-knit family, are determined to find a way to save the magazine, and their livelihood. To this end, they lure Atticus to Granada on a literary treasure hunt. After three months of no contact, his father gets worried and initiates a police search for Atticus, beginning a chain of events that will touch --and change-- the lives of all five women, the police inspector, Atticus and his parents.

The story is told in chapters that alternate between between Atticus' past and the present of the Librarte employees, eventually bringing the two stories up to date with each other. It is skillfully done and most effective.

When I began, and the first person introduced was a bumbling police inspector, I thought this would be a book of stereotypes and cardboard characters, but I was so wrong. Our Inspector turned out to be more complex, than seemed at first, as did all the individuals encountered. Sánchez created a realistic cast, many of whom I cared about deeply.

At times this book was lighthearted, funny, sad, serious, romantic and dramatic. Sánchez is excellent at balancing her novel with these varied emotions. The situations never felt contrived, but always natural, as if life were really just happening to these people.

Naturally, I've not read the Spanish version, but I feel that Lucy Greaves must have done an excellent job as the prose and conversations never feel stilted. In no way would I have known that this book was translated had I not read that it was.

On a side note, though, I did wonder if Sánchez had actually read Nabokov's Lolita, as she classes it with a group of literature that it is most definitely not. This wasn't a problem for the quality of the book, though, just something that I, as a fan of Nabokov, found a bother.

Overall, this is a delightful, at time moving, but always enjoyable novel. I give it the highest recommendation and hope that more of her novels will be translated into English.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds good! I'll have to check it out!