Read The Disappearance of Irene Dos Santos by Margaret Mascarenhas Online


Irene dos Santos disappeared at age 15. Believed to have drowned while on holiday with her best friend, Lily Martinez, her body was never found. Now, years later, she appears ghostlike in Lily's dreams, prompting a quest for the truth behind her disappearance. Mysteriously, Lily, eight-months pregnant with her first child, slips and falls on the same day that the statue ofIrene dos Santos disappeared at age 15. Believed to have drowned while on holiday with her best friend, Lily Martinez, her body was never found. Now, years later, she appears ghostlike in Lily's dreams, prompting a quest for the truth behind her disappearance. Mysteriously, Lily, eight-months pregnant with her first child, slips and falls on the same day that the statue of Maria Lionza, Patron Saint of their Venezuelan town, cracks in two. Confined to her bed, Lily is surrounded by her family and closest friends, who agree that a Novena to Maria Lionza will guide the baby's spirit safely into the world. Together, through their nine nights of prayer, each offers a story to entertain Lily and her baby. What emerges is a vivid picture of Venezuela during a time of revolution and uncertainty-and the unraveling of the mystery behind Irene dos Santos."The Disappearance of Irene Dos Santos is an intricately woven tale of love and memory from a deeply talented writer." --- Laila Lalami, author of Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits and Secret Son "Mascarenhas uses a 15-year-old girl's disappearance to spin a multilayered history of a Venezuelan family, incorporating folklore, political intrigue and magical realism...This family epic is immersive; no character or event is left unexplored from multiple perspectives. Indeed, the conclusion is like the final piece of an intricate puzzle." --Publishers Weekly...

Title : The Disappearance of Irene Dos Santos
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780446551434
Format Type : ebook
Number of Pages : 0 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Disappearance of Irene Dos Santos Reviews

  • karen
    2019-04-03 05:40

    i would love for someone to invent "book-luminol" that would allow me to spray my entire collection from an over-the-shoulder-leafblower/ghostbusters type contraption thing and then all the good books would glow, using whatever algorithm netflix is using now that is supposedly the best thing math has ever done. that way, i wouldn't have to read crap, even crap i mistakenly bought thinking it would be good.this is why:i could not decide what to read, so i decided to do the old "close my eyes and point" method. and the finger chose this book that i was like "whaaaaa?? i own this??", so i decided to go to and see why i would have bought it. and of all my seven kajillion friends, only one of them had rated it, and it was elizabeth and she gave it two stars. so i said- "i'm not reading this garbage!" (not her review - the book -, although i didn't read the review either because it said it had spoilers, so i thought it best to leave it for now) but so then i decided to try again, even though it was already compromised. but no one saw, so it didn't count. this time the stupid finger chose a book i know i do not want to read. i flipped through this one time after i had already paid for it, and once i came to the passage of the couple having sex in the split-open corpse of his mother i said, "yeah, not my thing." then the finger picked a book that is, like, number three in a series i have not started yet. so i gave up on my finger (twss) and chose this book with my eyes wide open.this is a good book.this book would glow if i had my book-luminol.i was checking out other reviews of this, and someone complains about the similarity of voice in this book, even though it is told through many many characters' perspective. and that's totally valid, that is a weakness to this novel. however, i don't really care about that if the story is good. and this one is. this isn't a story about individual characters, it is just the opposite - it is about echoes and parallels and the plot is a densely woven mass of details and repetition and omission. and, eventually, irene dos santos. the story itself is totally captivating, as it meanders through time and family tree and reality and unreality to a more or less satisfying conclusion (i say that, and it sounds bad, but it is an ambiguous ending and i am not totally sure how i feel about it - i think certain things, but they become impossibilities with the conclusion, but then again, in latin american magical realism, nothing is truly impossible, yes??) anyway, i liked it. i did have to go back and reread parts of it to get all the reverberations, but i was happy to do so. i look forward to reading more by this author.

  • Bridget
    2019-04-21 23:53

    This author has commited a cardinal sin. I was intoxicared by this novel at first. After "Irene Dos Santos" sat on my shelf for three years I finally picked it up. And what a novel! The relationships between the characters, how eight stories mingled into one, the anticipation of waiting to find out what happened to Irene! Finally when I reached the last chapter, all of my hopes for an amazing ending were dashed. Without giving too much away, you do find out what happens to Irene. However, the eight other characters who all had these emotional and spiritual lives that were enchanting for 300+ pages are written off entirely. This book had been about a 3.5 bordering on 4 stars for me. Then the author worte a cop out ending. I normally don't review but my disappointment was palpable after such a terrible end. This will end up in my company book swap instead of being proudly displayed on my shelf. I had to write something so that this didn't happen to others.

  • Meaghan
    2019-04-21 23:42

    I wanted to like this book a lot more than I actually did. All of the life stories contained therein were interesting, and many were fascinating, and even though I know zilch about the history of Venezuela I could still relate to the book. But it skipped around in time and place and point of view WAY too much. I had a hard time figuring out what was happening to who. There were several instances where the book says "So-and-so did this," some important event, but doesn't actually describe the action for several more chapters. And the final revelation about Irene Dos Santos was a bit of a let-down -- though quite a believable let-down.I would probably give this author another chance. She seems very ambitious, and I think the large cast in this story held together well. It's just that I'm not used to trying to juggle so many different people's life stories at the same time.

  • Audrey
    2019-03-28 00:38

    I found this book to be extremely disjointed and felt that the characters all lacked any unique voice. You can't have a story told from the point of view of numerous characters if they don't have a voice! I literally skipped large chunks at a time while saying "blah blah blah" in my head. Too bad, I was kinda into the first 1/3 or so.

  • David Anderson
    2019-04-12 21:41

    Rather disappointed in the long run. I was enjoying this book so much that I was leaning toward a 4 or 5 star rating and then everything just falls apart toward the end. Others have commented about how much they were enjoying this novel until the end when they felt let-down by the final section/chapter on Irene. I sympathize with that response although the problems actually begin a bit before that point. Marta's tale, a couple of sections before that, is a complete bust. Marta is Luz's mother and we've been exposed to them a great deal already, particularly in Luz's section. Marta flees Cuba for Venezuela, leaving her loving husband Humberto, a loyal revolutionary behind. We're in Venezuela and suddenly, out of the blue, she has two sons who become lost. No mention that Luz had brothers before, no mention that she had these children by Humberto who fled Cuba with her, just BAM here they are, gee, I forgot to mention them to you before, sorry about that. I was totally thrown and never really recovered. But that is just one problem with the section. It is incredible how poorly this section is written. The rest of book is so striking and lyrical and the author weaves these various lives of this extended family together so well up until this point. And Marta's section is a jumbled, pointless mess that contributes nothing to the book and does not neatly link with the other sections as had been the case before. It's as if she just dashed this part off without giving a thought to what it contributed to the whole. Just awful; never seen such a total disintegration like this (seen it in movies but never in books).The book recovers somewhat with the next section on Ismael, which is really as good the other parts and brings together some plot threads woven through those other sections. But the book should have ended and left Irene's fate a mystery; might as well because Irene's section also contributes nothing to what has gone before. It is better written than Marta's and it explores some interesting ideas that are nicely developed; it makes a decent enough short story but feels like a cheat in comparison to the rest of the book.I really should only give this 2 stars instead of 3 (maybe 2 & 1/2) but there was much to like and I want to give credit to the author's skills and ability. Bottom line though is I cannot recommend this to anyone.

  • Sally
    2019-04-01 00:58

    Latin American writing, or at least the Latin American writing I've read, is often is characterized by multi-generational storylines, the incorporation of local legend, myth, and magic realism, war, revolutions, revolts, and extended families. This book is no exception. I really enjoyed reading it, although I often got rather confused about who was related to whom, and how. The beginning is fairly straightforward, with limited charaters and plots, but towards the end, the cast expands, the intial characters develop, various sub-plots are laid out, and it is revealed that every character is linked in one way or another to many of the other characters. I almost felt like a flow-chart would have been helpful. The author also leaves you to sort out the mystical events and the truth behind the mysterious central event, which would perhaps more reasonable if the concrete parts of the story were not quite so overwhelming. I feel the author has perhaps tried to cram too much mystery, analogies, and connections into too short a book.I would reccomend this book to anyone who is a fan of One Hundred Years of Solitude.

  • Shilpi Jain
    2019-04-18 05:54

    While the preface made me think this is going to be a rather interesting read- set in backdrop of Venezuela where a teenager girl- Irene just vanishes while on a vacation with her friend- Lily and her parents. 20 years ahead amigo and here we are with Lily 8 months pregnant, happily married who suddenly sees Irene in her dream and next morning falls down and is on bed rest. She suddenly wants to know what happened to Irene. Her close family and friends, believers of Maria Loinza- a form of Mother Mary decide to tell their life stores to her. My take-the setting is interesting the pace tends to bore you to death, it's nice when the writer leaves a little bit to reader's imagination but if it happens in every five pages, you get frustrated. And Aiy Dois Mio (go figure!) too much spanish- every third line has a word interspersed and after a point you won't try to Google and it spoils your read even further. Your only hope is the ending which somehow will leave you feeling cheated for having read all 300ish pages. Do Not Recommend.

  • MaryBeth Isaac
    2019-04-24 23:40

    When I first finished this book I was very disappointed. The story did not end at all how I expected and was somewhat of a let down.Over a year later however, I have reflected on this book many times as I will often do with movies or novels that were thought provoking. In retrospect the novel was very well written, the storyline original. The writing flowed and was not choppy or confusing, even with the hopping back and forth to the story lines for the different characters. Some characters were definitely more well developed than others. I still wish the book had ended differently or more development was placed in that area but I do not regret reading this novel. Some of the indicators throughout the novel seemed to mean one thing while still reading the book, but another after finishing. I look forward to re-reading this book from a different view point.

  • Brenda
    2019-04-12 02:49

    Mascarenhas can weave a story and I actually had a hard time putting this one down. I liked Maria Lionza and her relation to the people of Venezuela. Also like the metaphor of the Passion Flower and its traits exemplified in the book's main characters. The final chapter left me a little befuddled even though it tied up most of the loose story threads.

  • Monica
    2019-04-11 21:46

    Intersting, very interesting. I was very excited by the idea of this book, not so into at the beginning, liked it more & more and then the ending- wow. Always a sucker for well done descriptions of unfamiliar locations-- now I need a Venezuelan history class. I loved how each character got to tell their own part of the story without it being the same story over & over.

  • Toya
    2019-03-29 21:57

    While I enjoyed each character individually telling her/his story, I struggled with making the connections I believe the author intended. I kept getting the feeling that I knew a person mentioned, but it was not easy for me to make the connection without going back to read previous chapters to find it.

  • Crystal
    2019-03-30 01:42

    Rating: 4.5/5First let me admit that I am not a literary fiction/book club fiction type reader. But this book may have changed my mind about that. I was so completely absorbed in this book that I lost track of time while laying out and baked a little too long on my stomach that day. That is how completely I got into the story.Centered around pregnant Lily, and her last days of her pregnancy spent in bed due to a fall with all of her family and close friends around her. Each of them entertains her with a story, mostly stories of their past that she has never heard. She hears from both her mom and dad how they met and other things from her husband, her nanny that helped raise her and still works in her house, her nanny's daughter who is like a cousin to her, her midwife and mother's good friend, and a few others. The suspense builds through the book because the main question is what happened to Irene Dos Santos, Lily's good friend from childhood. The book as a whole flows very well and when you are left questioning at one moment, the questions are eventually answered.This story was different to me because it is told by different people and you learn things about the past and the present when they are telling their story. When I read this book I was there with whoever was telling the story at the minute. I enjoyed learning about each character and how their lives intertwined with the other characters. It's amazing to get to the end of this book and think back and realize how all the characters though very different at times were interconnected. This is one of those books you finish and say "Wow" and then you want to read it again so you can put more together. It's kind of like seeing the Bruce Willis movie The Sixth Sense for the first time and then you want to go back and watch it again to see if you pick up on all the clues (no it's not told from dead people's perspective, it's just the only way I can describe it). You can take it all in on the first reading, but it's so enjoyable and intricate, that you want to read it again to get the full effect.An amazing book. It took me to a different culture (it takes place in Venezuela) and through a wonderful cast of characters that will stick with me. I finished this one on Saturday and I am still thinking about this story and the characters and I think I will for a long time to come. Very touching and different. This is one book you don't want to miss.

  • Maya
    2019-04-01 02:46

    Pro:- first novel I've read set in Venezuela, I loved the learning about the shifting facets of culture as seen through the eyes of various characters- I love ensemble stories in general, and how they can make the same general story seem so different depending on whose eyes the reader is "looking" through - Really enjoyed how there was not just more than one complex character, but more than one complex female characterCon:- Sometimes a strength can also be a weakness. The many character lent a lot of nuance, but it also made the central story (the relationship between Lilly and the disappeard Irene) fade too much into the background. Lilly is the nominal protagonist, who a. has to deal with crisis at end of her pregnancy and b. supposedly watns to solve the mystery left over from her teenage hood of what happened to her best friend. Yet the reader never goes back into her POV after the first chapters, the "crisis" seems to deflate, what she thinks of the resolution of the Irene question is never revealed, and even the relationship between them before the disappearance - which should be a highlight of the novel, given that all else is built around it - is lacklustre to say the least. Fails the Blechdel test (yes, I know that's supposed to be for film, but bear with me) as they don't seem to have a single discussion that doesn't revolve around men/boys (even the talks that are nominally about the famous red shoes came about because of Irene's desire to impress a boy; i.e. Irene was willing to risk her relationship with Lily because she placed the importance of impressing that boy higher). - The whole book is headed toward finding out what happened to Irene. I found it interesting, but felt frustrated by how short a space was dedicated to her POV. It made some of the described developments very hard to believe for me.Overall: despite above cons, I was drawn into the story and savoured the richness of detail. Because of that, 4 stars.

  • Kathy (Bermudaonion)
    2019-04-05 00:56

    Irene Dos Santos is the new girl in school and Lily has been assigned to show her around. The girls come from very different backgrounds. Irene’s family is wealthy and she is given lots of freedom by her stepfather and gunrunning mother. Her mother is rarely home and she doesn’t have much of a family life. Lily comes from a family that is closer to being middle class, leads a structured family life and is close to her mother. Despite their differences, the girls become best friends.Irene is not the best influence on Lily and teaches her to French kiss when the girls are thirteen. When one of her teachers tells Lily’s mother, the girl’s friendship is severed and Lily is sent to a Catholic boarding school. The girls do manage to get together a few times through the years without their parents knowing about it.A few years later, Lily is allowed to invite one friend on a family trip to the jungle. When she chooses Irene, her family reluctantly agrees. While on the trip, the girls go swimming in a lake but only Lily comes out. There is no trace of Irene anywhere, and Lily doesn’t seem to have any memory of the event.Fifteen years later, as Lily is about to give birth, she discovers an old letter from Irene and hopes to discover what happened to her old friend.Since The Disappearance of Irene Dos Santos by Margaret Mascarenhas is full of characters and is told in a non-linear fashion from different points of view, I had some trouble getting into it. The writing is beautiful and the underlying themes of Venezuelan myths and revolution are fascinating, though, so I was quickly reeled into the story. I would like to read more about Venezuela after reading this book. The ending of the book, however, left me wanting, and kept me from totally loving the book. I did enjoy it; I just didn’t love it. This book is full of symbolism and I’ll readily admit that I didn’t understand all of it.

  • Michelle
    2019-04-14 05:37

    Lily is expecting the birth of her first child in Venezuela. After a fall puts her pregnancy at risk, her friends and family come together to take care of her and perform a novena; nine days of prayers starting with each of them telling a story. Lily has dreams/visions of her friend Irene, who disappeared while on a trip with Lily's family, presumed drowned. Coinciding with her fall is the breakage of the statue of Maria Lionza, a local saint figure/goddess with several different aspects/appearances. As each story unfolds, we see a piece of Lily's history and that of Venezuela, with some of the stories seeming to be completely unrelated, at least at first. We see how Irene's unconventional home life gets Lily into trouble, causing Lily to be sent to a Catholic boarding school. While the girls secretly keep in touch, and eventually Irene joins the family trip to the wilds, we see that the drowning may have not been an accident after all. The story drew me in and I was intrigued by the culture and Maria Lionza; however, I found the ending to be odd and a bit baffling, which keeps me from giving it a higher rating.

  • Pamela
    2019-04-19 04:03

    This book is set in Venzuela and reads like an intricately patterned myth. The author carefully uses present tense for the current thread of the story and past tense to delineate the multitude of flashbacks needed. In this way, she develops the stories of nine major characters and devotes one section of the book to each. The thread connecting all is Irene Dos Santos, whose story is told last, and the passion fruit, which becomes symbolic of all of the lives lived with passion in a land troubled by bandits, insurrections, and persecutions and ruled by the god of oil. This is a book to be savored, and it makes me want to know more about the troubled history of this country. However, its frequently use of Portugese makes it different, although its use of coincidence is ordinary. Some readers will enjoy the lyrical language and ignore the lack of plot line.

  • Cabrina McNeil
    2019-04-10 23:36

    I loved this book! It offered a beautifully rich Latin American writing style with deep, passionate ties between the characters. The novel reminded me a lot of Isabel Allende's "House of the Spirits". The story offers several chapters with each centered on a different character of the story. You come to love and appreciate the relationships (romantic, familial, and friendship) and they help you analyze your own relationships. Additionally, like most Latin American literature (and history), the story is weaved with a theme of political rebellion. The families all go through so much because of different political revolutions that are happening. This story really identifies a triumph of human spirit and relationships. It also has a nice thinker of a twist in the end.

  • Morninglight Mama
    2019-03-30 01:54

    I've read a few novels written by Latin American or South American authors, and this one fits the bill for the genre as I perceive it. Filled with dream sequences and characters crossing the line between the physical world and the dream world, the words jump off the page in their descriptiveness and beauty. I can only think of the word heady to describe the narrative-- exciting and exhilarating, as well as a sensory-stimulating read. A fair share of sexuality and practice, as well as violence and revolution themes fill the pages as well, which may be important to note for some readers. Personally, I was swept up in the drama and the intricate ways that the large cast of characters were all interconnected, and the overwhelming passion of the story drew me in.

  • Cobygirl517
    2019-04-05 04:53

    The book was OK- it was confusing at times because each chapter is in the voice of a different character, and it was hard to keep all of the characters straight. A few times I had to go back and scan through previous chapters to recall why a "new" name sounded familiar. Also, the ending left much to be desired, and while I did take Spanish in HS and college, I still didn't know some of the things being said, as many times the author would inflect certain words or sentences in Spanish. But for the most part, I did enjoy reading the individual stories of many of the characters. Warning: The title is a bit mis-leading. While the underlying story is of the friendship between Lily and Irene, a better title would be "The Lives and Past of the People in Lily Martinez's Life".

  • Dahlma
    2019-04-13 22:43

    There is much that I like about this book. I enjoyed the language as well as the range of characters. I found individual characters, like Consuelo, Ismael, and Amparo fascinating. I loved exploring the unusual relationships between men and women. The mix of the indigenous, african and white characters is always a draw for me and the book kept me going for a long while. But eventually the issue of coincidence got to be a bit much. I could suspend disbelief for a while but too much of it leads to a contrived story. As a mystery, the ending was a disappointment, although it did pose really interesting ideas about creativity and the artist's psyche.

  • Jennifer
    2019-04-11 05:49

    Right from the begining I was drawn into Irene's World. The vivid character descriptions captivated me. It was almost like connecting a puzzle realizing how everyone was interconected. The ending disappointed me because I was upset that the people I grew to love were not real. But this is also a good depiction of Schitzophrenia. These people were real to Irene even though they only existed in her mind.This book did fail me in that only a few ending pages were given to the "real" Irenes disappearance so it felt like the ending was just thrown in their. The author could have done better.

  • Astrid
    2019-04-21 23:54

    3.5. Was originally a 4, up until the last chapter. There could have been a little less of the Spanish words that were not translated, but I loved the writing, loved they way the author has one person telling their story and that then leads into the next story and then the next and how everything is interrelated. Thought I had it all figured out but still am not quite sure what exactly happened in the end and what it all meant. Is it all fact or fiction or half and half or what? Looking forward to the book discussion to see what the ending means.

  • Chris
    2019-04-17 01:45

    This book was confusing to read because it jumped across time periods, characters, reality, and imagination. At the end, I just said "Huh" to myself. The characters were realistic and likeable but I found it impossible to keep track of the relationships without a visual flowchart. It reminded me of why I don't read spy novels--too much to keep track of, especially if there are tons of names to remember. Mascarenhas is a very good writer but I honestly don't know what she was trying to accomplish. That's why they have reading groups, I guess.

  • Sara
    2019-04-10 21:37

    I really liked this novel. I found there to be consistency with the characters, and I liked the way mysticism and political awareness was entwined. I saw a review that commented on the fragmentation of narration~ too many separate threads inside the story. Not my experience. I did find that there was an expectation of me as the reader to stay connected to what was being shared and how things were being pieced together. I was fascinated, horrified, touched... I was a little thrown by the ending. Hmmm. Guess we could all benefit from a time bending daddy?

  • Jennifer
    2019-04-06 05:03

    This is one of those books where you either have to:1) take notes while reading it or2) read parts of it twicein order to fully understand the twisted and gnarled web of characters. The story takes place in Venezuela and centers around the disappearance of a young girl that happened some 15 years ago. Each family member and character tells a small piece of the puzzle. The story zigs and zags and finally comes together in the end (if you go back and reread some chapters). Not an easy book to bring on vacation - takes some effort.

  • Dayna Smith
    2019-04-10 04:38

    Fifteen years ago Irene disappears and her friend Lily is found nearby semiconscious with no memory of what happened. Now as Lily prepares to give birth to her first child memories of Irene seem to haunt her. Lily determines to find out what happened to Irene, then she falls and is confined to bed until her baby comes. Her family and friends gather round to support her and each offers a personal story to guide the baby's spirit safely into the world. A strange book, yet it paints a vivid picture of life and culture in Venezuela.

  • Mari
    2019-04-07 03:01

    4.5 / 5I was enchanted by this book - the lush descriptions and complex characters made it almost impossible to put down (after the first 100 or so pages). However, to make sense of the end you'll need to either have been taking notes on EVERY character you encountered - no matter how briefly - or will need to go back and re-read several sections. Personally, I was not completely enamored of the ending, but I enjoyed the rest of the novel enough to compensate.

  • Megan
    2019-04-26 01:48

    I was very into this book for about the first 1/3 of it. Then I became increasingly confused, as the list of characters and the back-stories grew to be overwhelming. I pondered taking out a notebook to keep track of who was who and what was what, but decided that was a bit too much work. Too bad, I would have probably liked it if I knew what the hell was going on!

  • Diane S ☔
    2019-04-10 03:40

    There is much I liked about his novel: the setting, the history, the main story about Lily and her baby, her parents and the midwives story. Reading the back stories of every character, however, soon became very tedious. As for Irene, I have to say that I just found her irritating. So for me this book was just okay.

  • Marilyn
    2019-03-26 03:44

    Mystery and romance set in turbulent, political Venezuela. I enjoyed the story, charming and very South American. However I would not recommend it to someone who does not have a good working knowledge of Spanish. It's written in English with a lot of Spanish dialog interspersed throughout the novel.