Warning: This review contains spoilers for The Same Sea as Every Summer, as this is a kind of sequel.
So, as I said in the warning, Love is a Solitary Game is sort of a follow-up to The Same Sea as Every Summer. How are they similar? In two main ways: the love affair that the story is based around and the character of Clara.
I’ll start with Clara, as I may as well get the spoilers over and done with. From the description that the reader is given of Clara, I came to the conclusion that this was the same Clara as the Clara in the other Esther Tusquet novel that I’ve read. In this case she’s now living with her parents after her unnamed lover betrayed her at the end of The Same Sea as Every Summer. To be honest, the change of scenery hasn’t done her any good.
The other similarity is the focus on the love affair between a dissatisfied housewife, named Elia, and a university student. In this case, however, Clara does not play the part of the younger lover, much as she would like to be. No, in this case the younger lover is a poet named Ricardo. To be honest, I never knew how to feel about this love affair. On the one hand, they do seem to get along well and, while the love affair is undoubtedly only a summer fling, it does seem to be largely harmonious. That is until one considers Clara’s position in all this. She is quite obviously in love with Elia and quite obviously finds Ricardo utterly repulsive, despite acting as his confidante, so to consider this pairing is utterly bewildering to her. It’s made even worse by Ricardo giving her a blow-by-blow account of the affair. The climactic scene at the end of the novel makes this situation dip to possibly the lowest of lows; I shan’t spoil the ending, but suffice to say that it nearly made me physically ill and is thus a testament both to the absolute lack of compassion in Ricardo and Tusquet’s writing ability.
Speaking of the writing, it is once again very dreamy and languid in tone which works very well in building up atmosphere, whether it be dread or something more positive. There are a lot more obviously erotic scenes in this than in The Same Sea as Every Summer, which are, thankfully, very tastefully written.
This is another fantastic effort from Tusquet, which makes me immensely glad I got them, considering their obscure nature. This was more uncomfortable than her previous novel, but no less interesting and considering the increased part afforded to Clara, I’m looking forward to reading her next, and last, entry into this loose trilogy. 4/5
Next review: Battles in the Desert and Other Stories by Jose Emilio Pacheco.
If you’re wondering why I suddenly have Internet, I’m visiting home for the weekend.