THE GALLERY OF VANISHED HUSBANDS by Natasha Solomons

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJuliet is married, and she is not. Her husband disappeared one day and now for her people she is married and cannot divorce her husband. In Jewish culture only men are allowed to ask for a divorce. The community feels pity for her and ignores her, but a sudden encounter with a young painter change everything and gives her the opportunity of starting a new life.

First thing first, she decides to buy a portrait of herself rather than a new fridge.

This story carries me through a life that starts with a small memory of a nine year old girl and finishes with an old woman re-reading the only letter of her vanished husband.

We all have a life, be it shorter or longer, we all have a life, but not all our years are the same. I always like to think on my birthday, which I really enjoy celebrating, that I have lived each of my years, but, of course, not all these years have been the same, and some of them seem to be as present as they were in the past, and other years are almost blurred somehow.

In this story, I had the same feeling. I met Juliet Montague knowing a lot of around ten years of her life, but other years passed in such a hurry, that I had the feeling all the time that we were in different cities, and we only met each other occasionally to catch up on our lives.

Juliet’s life started for me with page 66, when she expresses what is art for her. With these short sentences, she expresses what I want to feel one day when re-reading some of my feelings that I expressed them perfectly.

“He values useful objects like a walking stick or a pair of spectacles. Bur art does have a use. It helps us see the world more clearly. Like my father’s beloved spectacles, art sharpens our perception. We see Max’s bird or Jim’s bathers and when we look at the sea again, we understand it better.”

Now a child’s point of view of the real world.

“Between Louisville and Fort Smith he sat beside a travelling salesman with a briefcase full of imitation watches (that kept real time just the same)…”

She finally understands that she is without limits.

“I could go anywhere. I’m not lost, I’m free.”

Even a woman like Juliet wishes for her son a quiet life because in the end people like to think that the more average a life is, the happier it will be.

“I wish upon my son an ordinary life of fatness and fatherhood and simple joys.”

You can remember moments of your life that were good, but as Juliet discover everything can be erased.

“He was charming and could be terribly funny. He adored you and Leonard. But then he left and that cancelled out everything good that happened before.”

I completely agree with Juliet in this affirmation:

“I can’t change my birthday and more than I can change the day of my death,”, and so to feel that I am celebrating my birthday I need it to be celebrated always the day of my birth, not before, and not after.

This sentence is to understand better what kind of woman Juliet is:

“I like to know how other people see the world.”

The end of the book is a mixture of sadness, understanding and acceptance of the reality, and how the years passed in a second.

Natasha Solomons was born in 1980. Her first job, aged nine, natashawas as a shepherdess, minding the flock on Bulbarrow hill. Since then, she has worked as a screenwriter with her husband, and they are currently working on the film adaptation of her first novel, Mr Rosenblum’s List. She is also researching a Ph.D. in eighteenth-century poetry. She lives in Dorset.

Natasha Solomons was inspired in part by the life of her husband’s grandmother, a woman whose husband vanished one day to write this book.

Bibliography:

Mr Rosemblun’s List

Mr Rosemblun dream in English

The gallery of vanished Husbands

 The house of Tyneford/The novel in the viola

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