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Literature / Eva Luna

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Eva Luna is a novel written by Chilean novelist Isabel Allende in 1985 and translated from Spanish to English by Margaret Sayers Peden.

According to The Other Wiki, Eva Luna takes us into the life of the eponymous protagonist, an orphan who grows up in an unidentified country in South America. While the country's political history, traced through several decades of the mid-20th century, bears many similarities to Chile (the author's original nationality), the geography and social context of the story depict a society more similar to Venezuela (where Allende spent over a decade living in exile).

The novel takes us through Eva Luna's journey though life so far and her ability to tell stories, interweaving Eva's personal story with the broader geopolitical turmoil of Latin America during the 1950s - 1980s.

Has nothing to do with the homonimous soap opera.

Eva Luna has the following tropes.

  • A-Cup Angst: Eva is very slender and lacking curves, and as a young girl she was seriously embarrassed, being taken in by a Miss Kitty and her High Class Call Girls for a while.
  • An Odd Place to Sleep: Elvira purchases a coffin to be ready for her supposedly upcoming death. She later starts using it as her bed, freaking out the maid of the house. And she survives a massive flood thanks to this.
  • Break the Cutie: Rolf Carle, his brother Jochen and their mother go through Hell in post-World War II Austria, both for the consequences of the war and due to the patriarch Lukas's horrible abuse. It takes them several years to get fully better. And for worse, Jochen actually disappears when in his teens after snapping on Lukas when he sees him sexually abusing Mrs. Carle, and he's never heard of again. Pretty much the only one non-broken (aside of Lukas) is Katharina, and that's because she's oblivious to it due to being mentally handicapped.
    • Subverted by Eva, who also goes through her own share of adversity but is somewhat less traumatised.
    • Played straight by Mimi, both in her early years and when in jail.
  • Broken Bird: One of Eva's bosses, a woman from the country formerly known as Yugoslavia who was traumatised by the war. Also Rolf's mother and Melecio, though she gets better.
  • Brooding Boy, Gentle Girl: Eventually it seems to be Rolf and Eva's dynamics. Not that she has not lived her woes, but he's the one most traumatized.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: When Jochen and Rolf find out that their dad sexually abuses their mom (via forcing her to parade naked with only a pair of red stiletto heels on, Jochen massively snaps and beats Lukas severely. Then, with the implicit blessing of Mrs. Carle, he he leaves home.
  • Chekhov's Gun: One of Eva's tasks while working for Riad and Zulema is taking care of Zulema's valuable jewelry. After Zulema dies, Riad tells her that they belong to her. She comes for them much later and gives them to Mimi, telling her to sell them to get money for her sex-reassignment operation; Mimi decides to wear them instead since she doesn't want to go through the risky operation.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The lady from Yugoslavia, who taught Eva how to make very life-like porcelain figures. She uses said knowledge to help the guerrilla make realistic-looking fake bombs to take over a political prison.
  • Cool Big Sis: Melecio is the rare MtF Transgender version. As Mimi, she cranks it up to eleven.
  • The Chew Toy: Eva's Parental Substitute, La Madrina. NOT Played for Laughs, not at all.
  • Dead Guy on Display: The embalmed body of a murdered lawyer becomes infamous for this.
  • Despair Event Horizon:
    • Zulema, after her single night of love with Riad's cousin Kamal. She's later Driven to Suicide.
    • La Madrina completely loses her mind and attempts to kill herself via slashing her own throat, but Eva and Mimi save her.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Eva is normally very level-headed, but giving Zulema's lifeless body a Due to the Dead treatment in the worst moment possible qualifies as this. It really doesn't help her case when she's mistakenly accused of murdering her.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Lukas Carle is an horrible Sadist Teacher as well as the most abusive patriarch in his hometown... so he ends up beaten and hanged by his own pupils as revenge for his abuse. Since this happens in a tiny village where Carle was Hated by All, nobody bothers investigating, and it's treated as a quiet version of And There Was Much Rejoicing.
  • Domestic Abuse: Poor, poor Mrs. Carlé.
  • Due to the Dead: When Zulema shoots herself dead in the mouth , Eva tries to deal via dressing up her lifeless body up her best clothes, fixing her make-up, and sitting next to her to tell her one last love story. Bad thing, this is used against her when she's accused of having killed Zulema.
  • Florence Nightingale Effect This is how Eva was conceived. Consuelo had somewhat of a crush on the quiet gardener of the mansion she worked in, and when he was bitten by a poisonous snake she took care of him, he came to return her feelings, and they ended up having sex since she wanted to both give herself the chance to sleep with someone she liked and wanted him to die happy. He later got better and returned to his home, and months later Consuelo realised she was pregnant...
  • Fiery Redhead: Averted by Consuelo, who's a borderline Cloud Cuckoo Lander as a young girl and later becomes The Stoic until Eva is born.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Eva refers to the girls who work under La Señora as basically this. They're normal, kind-hearted, good-looking young women who dote a little on her via taking her out to the movies and have cake afterwards — it's just that they work as High Class Call Girls, and the then-pre-teen Eva doesn't judge them for their occupation.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Rolf Carle, the Deuteragonist and Eva's third and last love, after Huberto and Riad Halabi
  • Inter Generational Friendship: Eva has this with several people: Elvira (50s at least), La Señora (40s), Melecio aka Mimi (early to mid-20s and mid-30s as Mimi), Riad Halabi though her feelings for him go to Second Love later. (40s)
    • Also Melecio and La Señora.
  • I Want to Be a Real Man: Eva's childhood friend and first love, Huberto Naranjo, wants to be the manliest man ever as a pre-teen boy. He later laughs at it when older, realising how silly these antics were.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: La Madrina and it's Played for Drama to the core.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Eva describes La Madrina as such. Her "parenting" methods leave a lot to be desired, but while Eva gets rightfully frustrated in her inner narration, she thinks it's because La Madrina simply doesn't know how to express her feelings.
    • Huberto, very much so.
  • Just the Way You Are: When Mimi refuses to "complete" her physical transition, Eva asks about her (Mimi's) boyfriend Aravena. Mimi says "it's okay, he loves me the way I am", to Eva's relief.
  • Kissing Cousins: Rolf's first romantic and sexual experiences are with his two cute cousins, who agree to "share" his affection and body when it's obvious that he cannot choose between them. They later take separate ways, but still remember these years fondly.
  • Lighter and Softer: Technically it has lots of dark moments, but compared with many other Allende books, it's more optimistic.
  • Meaningful Rename: From Melecio, to Mimi. From Huberto Naranjo, to "Commander Rogelio"
  • Miss Kitty: La Señora ("The Lady")
  • No Name Given: La Señora, La Madrina ("The Godmother"), El Negro ("The Dark-skinned Dude", without the same racist vibes that the word has in the USA.)
  • No Periods, Period: Toyed with. Eva stops menstruating as a teenager after Zulema's suicide; she mentions that to Riad Halabi before their single night and speculates it's due to the trauma but doesn't make a fuss out of it, though later Mimi insists she must go to a doctor. She "recovers" her menstruation later, seeing it as a sign that she's not afraid of falling in love anymore
  • Papa Wolf: Eva's boss and Parental Substitute, Riad Halabi, is pissed off when he finds a half-naked, beaten, borderline unconscious and Bound and Gagged Eva in the police station, after she's wrongfully accused of killing Zulema while he's outside the village.
    Riad: "W-What have you done to my little girl?!"
  • Patient Childhood Love Interest: Eva shows some traits when she falls for Huberto as a pre-teen, and when they get involved after several years she waits for him since he can only visit her counted times. Uncommonly for the trope, Mimi criticizes her when they get together because she thinks he's not good enough for Eva. It's ultimately averted when they break it off amiably, and she goes with Rolf while he continues fighting in the guerrilla.
  • Plucky Girl: Eva, Eva, Eva.
  • Raised by Dudes: The Franciscan missionaries that found little Consuelo were, well, all men. And they were kinda Maternally Challenged in these regards for obvious reasons, so they handed her to a nun convent as soon as they could.
  • La Résistance: With Huberto, now known as "Commander Rogelio", as its Rebel Leader.
  • Roman à Clef: in story. The book we are reading? Her autobiography, which she also wrote as a sucessful telenovela.
  • Shipper on Deck: Rolf's aunt and uncle, Burgel and Rupert, strived to have him engaged to one of their daughters. Even lamenting that there weren't two Rolfs for each girl.
  • Shipping Torpedo: Mimi does NOT like it when Eva dates Huberto, and often openly wonders "What Does She See in Him?".
  • Shout-Out: At some point, Eva recalls a Colombian gentleman with huge moustache that sold millions of copies of his novel. Gabriel García Márquez says hello.
  • Sibling Triangle: Averted with Rolf and his cousins, who go the A Threesome Is Hot way instead. According to the narrative, the girls already shared pretty much everything up until then so they saw no problem in sharing a lover as long as the three were honest to each other about it.
  • The Story Teller: Eva's biggest "gift" is her ability to create and tell stories, ever since she was a kid. (She inherited it from Consuelo). It's actually so important to her it often saves her from poverty and sometimes even death, and her biggest goal is to become a writer.
  • Supreme Chef: Huberto's best friend El Negro. Justified, he works in a restaurant.
  • Street Urchin: Eva spends some time as this as the Red Light District is disbanded. A while later, she's taken in by Riad Halabi.
    • Huberto is this from the beginning.
  • That Thing Is Not My Child!: La Madrina gives birth to a deformed stillborn kid, and tosses the tiny corpse to the trash.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Rolf's cousins and first loves. The eldest is a Hard-Drinking Party Girl who can out-drink males and swears like a sailor. The youngest daughter is cuter, girlier and described as being quite coquettish.
  • Trans Equals Gay: Defied. Melecio specifically points out the trope and denies it, even when people refer to her as a gay man instead of the trans woman she actually is. As the female-bodied Mimi, she keeps defying the trope via searching for male love interests (though she's not very lucky until almost the end.)
  • Velvet Revolution: For the most part, the transition from dictatorship to democracy. Save for La Résistance, that is. A Justified Trope: this is what actually happened in Chile.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Eva's Cool Big Sis Mimi is a beautiful woman with a very deep voice. As said below, Mimi is the re-invented and finally able to transition Melecio; she manages to find a medium of sorts, voice-wise, and "reserves" her deepest pitch for when she needs to make a point.
  • What Beautiful Eyes!: Eva's most striking physical trait are her almost yellow eyes. She got them from her father, a native man who had exactly the same eye color.
  • Worldsmost Beautiful Woman: A certain lady named Mimi is regarded as such. She is actually Melecio after she reinvents herself.
  • World War II: Rolf's childhood is set in Austria during the war and after the coming of the Soviet Army, Rolf's father was in the Wehrmacht and sent to forced labor in Ukraine after the war.