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Swedish Tango
by Alyson Richman

Category: Fiction / General
0 pages; ISBN: 0743476425

Rating: 10/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Harriet Klausner

Review

Swedish Tango
Alyson Richman
Atria, Sep 2004, $23.00
ISBN: 0743476425

In the 1970s, Pablo Neruda asks movie star Octavio Ribeiro to teach Salvador Allende how to work the media while he runs for the Chilean presidency. Only for his personal idol Neruda would Octavio get involved with politics, but he pays quite a price after Allende’s reign falls; thugs of Allende’s opponent Pinochet abduct and torture his wife Salome to frighten Allende supporters and to personally make Octavio pay. After Salome is rescued, she, Octavio and their children receive political asylum in Sweden.

Salome visits Dr. Samuel Rudin, an expert on post-traumatic stress syndrome. Samuel has his own troubles as his French Jewish parents never mentally escaped the Holocaust though they fled to Peru before Hitler’s invasion. His wife Kaija also has parental issues as her parents sent her to the safety of adoption in Sweden during WWII. Samuel and Salome have a brief affair, but the doctor knows it’s wrong and ends it.

Two decades later, Salome is asked to testify against Pinochet. With Samuel dead for years, she turns to Octavio, whom she still loves, asking him what she should do as she fears repercussions.

SWEDISH TANGO is an intriguing look at family vs. society told by the perspectives of Salome and Octavio. The story line is at its best when it places an Ayn Rand lens on societal ethics against personal loyalty and safety. When the tale spins into a possible second chance romance, it still hooks readers interested in what happens to the lead couple, but also loses its deep thought provoking philosophical questions on the needs pf an individual and a family against the demands of deadly leadership and a nation.

Harriet Klausner

 

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