It is not easy to give a book a one star rating. However, Milena Busquets’ novel This Too Shall Pass, is the embodiment of one such rating.
This Too Shall Pass is the story of forty-year-old Blanca, a woman with two exes, two children from those exes, a married lover, and a drinking problem. After losing her mother, Blanca feels lost and devastated without her mother’s guiding advice, so she decides to move from Barcelona to Cadaques where she lived as a child with her mother. She brilliantly decides to travel with ex-husbands one and two, her children, a few friends, and a desire to soothe her sadness over her mother by planning a rendezvous with her lover Santi, who will be vacationing in Cadaques with, of course, his wife.
If this doesn’t seem the opening for a bad and over the top telenovela, Blanca’s arrival in Cadaques in company of her equally bizarre entourage, cinches the story into the realm of absurdity. Blanca behaves like a teenager using her grief as an excuse, alternatively sleeping with one of her ex-husbands and her lover, while asking herself why she is so unlucky in love. Nights of drinking, dancing, smoking pot, and sleeping around take premise over the sorrow Blanca experiences over her mother’s death, making the reader ponder: “What is really going on here?”
The Spanish to English translation of the novel may be part of the problem. Certainly a less than apt translation certainly doesn’t do a novel any service, but surely it cannot be the sole thing that botched this novel so severely. Busquets seems to have done a fairly good job of that herself, by filling pages and pages with the life and idiocy of a main character for which we end up feeling nothing but contempt and frankly, even a little disgust.
Unfortunately, by the time we reach the final page of this mess, we feel sort of cheated. Expecting a profound novel about the agony and despair of losing someone we love, we instead get the cheap and needless to say, mediocre adaptation of an Almodovar film. Milena Busquets novel makes us want to sigh in despair, “This too shall pass” with quiet desperation at the turn of every page.