My plan to read more books by NZ authors this year has got off to a slow start to say the least so I was pleased to pick this up and was intrigued by the theme of the book, the Argentinian tango and the claim it can take just three minutes of dancing to fall in love and change the course of your life.
I don’t know much about dance but I do admire the tango and if I’m ever brave enough to take some lessons, for me that would be the one to learn.
I know a lot of people loved Lloyd Jones’s Mr Pip. For me it was a good read but not one that blew me away. I was interested to see how this story,written five years earlier, would compare.
The story is that of Louise and Schmidt who fall in love dancing the tango in the early years of WW1 and the parallel story two generations later of Schmidt’s granddaughter Rosa sharing the passion of the tango with an employee at her cafe. Both stories take place in New Zealand and Argentina.
The original story for me was the most interesting. Louise having lost her family and living alone, finds herself hiding out in a cave on the coast of NZ. She is with three men, two who are trying to avoid compulsory inscription and one, Schmidt, a piano tuner, who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Hiding in the cave, Schmidt teaches all three the tango – and things are never the same.
I loved the idea of this story and it was a book that I really enjoyed reading and looked forward to getting back to. I did struggle a bit with some of the logistics, figuring out what was happening where and unfortunately I didn’t find it (the later story especially) as convincing or passionate as I was hoping to. It did plant a seed though and I listened to some of the musicians referred to in the book on you tube – amazing. I’ve also just checked out The Tango Singer from the library. I’m looking forward to learning more.
Getting back to Lloyd Jones, I appreciate that he can tell a good story in less than 300 pages and his stories all seem to be quite different. Another of his books I have seen here in the UK is The Book of Fame which tells the story of the 1905 ‘invincible’ All Blacks. That might not interest everyone but I would like to read it at some stage.
2002, 272 pages