Summary and book reviews of What We Become by Arturo Perez-Reverte

What We Become

by Arturo Perez-Reverte

What We Become by Arturo Perez-Reverte
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jun 2016, 464 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2017, 512 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
James Broderick

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About this Book

Book Summary

An epic historical tale following the dangerous and passionate love affair between a beautiful high society woman and an elegant thief. A story of romance, adventure, and espionage.

En route from Lisbon to Buenos Aires in 1928, Max and Mecha meet aboard a luxurious transatlantic cruise ship. There Max teaches the stunning stranger and her erudite husband to dance the tango. A steamy affair ignites at sea and continues as the seedy decadence of Buenos Aires envelops the secret lovers.

Nice, 1937. Still drawn to one another a decade later, Max and Mecha rekindle their dalliance. In the wake of a perilous mission gone awry, Mecha looks after her charming paramour until a deadly encounter with a Spanish spy forces him to flee.

Sorrento, 1966. Max once again runs into trouble - and Mecha. She offers him temporary shelter from the KGB agents on his trail, but their undeniable attraction offers only a small glimmer of hope that their paths will ever cross again.

Arturo Pérez-Reverte is at his finest here, offering readers a bittersweet, richly rendered portrait of a powerful, forbidden love story that burns brightly over forty years, from the fervor of youth to the dawn of old age.

Excerpt
What We Become

IN NOVEMBER 1928, Armando de Troeye traveled to Buenos Aires to compose a tango. He could permit himself that luxury. At forty-three, the man who wrote "Nocturnes" and "Pasodoble for Don Quixote" was at the height of his fame, and all the Spanish illustrated magazines published a photograph of him, arm in arm with his beautiful wife aboard the Cap Polonio, an ocean liner of the Hamburg Südamerikanische company. The most glamorous picture appeared in the society pages of Blanco y Negro: in it the de Troeyes are on the first-class deck, he with a trench coat draped over his shoulders, one hand in his jacket pocket, the other holding a cigarette, as he smiles at the people on the quayside waving him off; and she, Mecha Inzunza de Troeye, wearing a fur coat and a stylish hat that sets off her eyes, which the caption writer described enthusiastically as "splendidly deep and sparkling."

That night, with the lights still twinkling on the distant coast, Armando de ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

In previous works like The Siege and The Club Dumas, the poignancy and emotional devastation was a by-product of the tightly knit story, while in this book the emotional revelations feel like an adjunct to the plot, tacked on to give the derring-do of the almost 500 pages an emotional heft. Within each of the time frames, there is intrigue aplenty. Jewel thieving in exotic and dangerous places among characters of the highest and lowest social stature offers an attractive palate for a writer of Perez-Reverte's gifts, and he makes the most of it.   (Reviewed by James Broderick).

Full Review Members Only (751 words).

Media Reviews

Wall Street Journal

Mr. Pérez-Reverte is an accomplished storyteller, and anyone nostalgic for the lost, elegant days when people dressed for dinner and a tuxedo was obligatory in casinos will find much to delight them here...This thoroughly enjoyable novel cries out to be made into a movie.

O Magazine

[a] riveting and intricately layered historical novel.

Booklist

Starred Review. An intoxicating entertainment, pulsing with life but, at the same time, with a kind of damp, hidden lament for all that was and is no more.

Library Journal

Starred Review. Told through numerous flashbacks and sparkling with witty dialog ("I like the fact that there's no way I can trust you"), this elegantly translated thriller is enthusiastically recommended to sophisticated readers and those who wish to be.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. Perez-Reverte summons the romantic spirit of an old black-and-white movie: impossibly glamorous, undeniably wistful.

El Mundo (Spain)

[What We Become] is an extraordinary novel of love and adventure, passion and intrigue, emotion, betrayal and reunions spanning across four decades of the troubled twentieth century and represented by three fascinating times and places.

El País (Spain)

A great love story...a fresh documentation of the lost history of Europe.

La Vanguardia (Spain)

Romance, life, desire and adventure, all told by Pérez-Reverte in the best way possible.

Westdeutscher Rundfunk (Germany)

What We Become is breathtakingly written.

Nordeutscher Rundfunk (Germany)

Beautiful language, a gripping story, authentic characters and fascinating sceneries – these are the ingredients for an excellent novel.

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (Switzerland)

What We Become is a brilliant novel which takes us into the nostalgic world of tango, love, and crime.

Author Blurb ohn Kwiatkowski , author of Murder By The Book
This book is a masterpiece. It reads like a classic film. The story moves effortlessly between the dance halls of 1920s Buenos Aires, to a chess tournament in 1960s Italy, and back to Nice in the '30s... What We Become does what Arturo Pérez-Reverte does best. He transports you to another place in time, and leaves you feeling nostalgic when the the book ends.

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Beyond the Book

The Tango

Fans of the ballroom dance known as the "tango" probably think of it as synonymous with elegance and sophistication, with dazzlingly turned out women and men striding gracefully amid a throng of champagne-and-caviar glitterati. A fair impression, given the tango's portrayal in Hollywood movies and musicals. But the tango began more than a century ago as a folk dance in Argentina, crude and defiant, shaped by former slaves and European immigrants, and infused with a luridness that caused authorities to ban it in public.

"Once the tango became socially acceptable, it lost its character," thinks Max Costa, the tango dancer at the center of Arturo Perez-Reverte's novel What We Become. "It became slow, calculated, less lewd. This was the tame...

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