The Invisible Mountain
The Invisible Mountain is Carolina De Robertis’s accomplished generational saga describing the fates of three women intertwined with those of Uruguay and Argentina. In Uruguay an infant girl, Pajarita, is missing and then found on New Year’s Day, 1900. Pajarita marries an Italian immigrant from Venice. When demons plague her husband, Pajarita sustains the family with a combination of herbal medicine and psychological counseling. Divided into three parts, the novel moves to Eva, Pajarita’s fourth child. Assault drives Eva to flee Montevideo with a childhood friend for Argentina. In Buenos Aires Eva becomes dangerously ill, and in the hospital the star physician falls in love with her, enchanted by the fierce Uruguayan writing poetry from her bed. Married to the doctor, Eva enters elegant Buenos Aires society in the same strata as President Peron. When she helps expose a human rights issue, Eva and her family must flee to Uruguay. The novel concludes with Salomé, Eva’s daughter, and the young woman’s adolescent enchantment with revolution and such figures as Ernesto (Che) Guevara. Salomé joins a revolutionary group at a time in both Uruguay and Argentina when dictators were making victims of their own citizenry.
Salomé’s tale is the most tragic, and the arc of the women’s stories, begun with the miraculous survival of Pajarita, seems to follow that of the 20th century at the beginning of which Uruguay thought itself the Switzerland of Latin America. By Salomé’s time Uruguay had become “less innocent, smaller somehow, dwarfed by the looming world.”
Rich in language, character and incident, The Invisible Mountain is a satisfying tale wherein, as De Robertis writes, “women were like cities, full of darkened rooms, able to find new worlds down hidden hallways.”