Monday, 25 February 2013
Dona Nicanora's Hat Shop by Kirstan Hawkins
Each year the members of my bookgroup select two titles each. This month's selection was mine and selected in the same way that I select horses in the Grand National - because they have a nice name!
The story is set in a small sleepy town in South America. The inhabitants are happy with their lot and the central character, Dona Nicanoras has always had a dream to open a hat shop. She is widowed and yet only in her early forties and she has known more grief as she as buried several children. Times are tough.
The sleepy village has very few visitors, that is until Dona's eldest son returns from another failed trip of making his fortune, he is his father's son! He brings with him someone he has met and this is the catalyst for change.
From this moment on Dona considers with the money she has from taking the traveler in as a lodger that she could open her hat shop after all, yet, the mayor has other ideas and wishes to wake up the sleepy town and bring in more visitors, of course the consequences are that town does not get rich, only the people that have the money in the first place.
I loved the characters and felt that they were portrayed as being vibrant. There were some great one liners from Gloria and Ramon.
On one level the story shows the potential exploitation of places and people and that sometimes greed can consume all logical thought and overshadow all the great things. In doing so it strips away the very sole of something to the point of ruin.
Ultimately, this was essentially a love story. A story of loves, those endured, lost and endured. The story of dreams, even if they come at a price.