The Blue Hour by Alonso Cueto

Book Review by Rosie Hopegood | 01 Jul 2013
Book title: The Blue Hour
Author: Alonso Cueto

Winner of the Herralde Prize for the Spanish original, The Blue Hour is an unconventional love story set against the backdrop of a country recovering from a massacre and uprising that left tens of thousands dead. The lovers are an unlikely duo: Adrian is the son of Commander Ormache, a successful Peruvian Naval Officer and a patriarch of Kafkaesque proportions; Miriam is a girl once held captive and sexually abused by the Commander.

Cueto’s plain, unadorned prose is a refreshing change from the magical realism with which Latin American fiction has become overly associated. The novel moves at a fast pace, though the tight plot sags a little midway as Cueto extensively details Peru’s bloody history.

There are some frustratingly inadequate female characters – Miriam starts out as an almost Scheherazade-like figure who uses her feminine guile to overcome her captors, yet is later reduced to little more than a damsel in distress. In the midst of a sea of acquiescent wives and prudent mothers, the reader is left craving a female character with a little more gumption. And yet, its strengths – an engaging protagonist and an illuminating study in recent Peruvian history – allow The Blue Hour to remain a very readable book. [Rosie Hopegood]

Out now, published by Windmill, RRP £8.99