Thursday, September 15, 2011

Vigil by Cecilia Samartin

Vigil by Cecilia SamartinImagine loving a man for twenty years, but not being able to tell him so. Imagine sleeping in a room down the hall from this man you love for twenty years. Imagine having to watch this man interact day after day with his wife and children. Ana watches.. for twenty years before she finally has the opportunity to act on her love.

The story starts in El Salvador during the time of civil war and brutality. Ana loses her entire village and is the only one to walk away. Why was she saved? She was saved not once, but twice. She takes this as sign that she is to have a higher purpose. She believes she is to be a nun. However, many years after escaping to the U.S, a mere 6 months from the time she is supposed to take her vows, she is summoned to the Trellis household. They need a nanny.

Enter an intriguing household full of characters that all need Ana's help. The man rarely leaves his study. The woman is spoiled, indulgent, and a sex addict. Teddy, their child, is spoiled rotten and undisciplined. The cook is an alcoholic widow. Can Ana help this family or will her growing emotions for the man of house make things worse?

The book goes back and forth between past and present, the present being Ana at her beloved's death bed trying to gather his children to his side and the past being the twenty years she has devoted to that family. What sounds like a very simple story became so much more with Samartin's words and prose. It's a very enjoyable book and thought evoking. I was slightly bugged that Ana literally puts her life on hold for twenty years though and doesn't appear to have any kind of life outside of this family. However, the book also explains that.. due to what she went through in El Salvador, Ana likes safety, likes being cocooned. That is what drew her to the rigid, predictable life of the nunnery. I was hoping that Ana would change, I guess, because I was disappointed with the ending.. After being in a box twenty years, I would think that she would want to finally leave the box, to see some of the world, to live outside that selfish family. 

Something else I wondered about... Did Adam really love her or did he just want someone to take care of him in his illness? The timing... It made me stop and ponder. I'm not sure if I was supposed to do this, but I did. And I like books that make me stop and analyze characters and their intentions. 

Four stars and I would like to share two laugh out moments:

"Mama: "what are you going to do if you fall in love with a man who wants to have children? What are going to tell him?" Ana: "I'll tell him that if he really loves me, then I should be enough for him."

'How different from the men in my village who left their women to give birth while they got drunk with the other men in the square. Sometimes it took the new father more time to recover from his hangover than it took the mother to recover from childbirth.'

I received this from the author.

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