A Square in Antwerp

Original cover, Record, Brazil, 2015
Cover, Saída de Emergência, Portugal, 2015

[ Original title, in portuguese: Uma Praça em Antuérpia ]

Luize Valente's second historical novel, after The Secret of the Shrine (2012), both published by Record / Brazil. The saga of two twin sisters in the middle of the Second World War and the secret they left behind.

Octogenarian Olívia Braga de Almeida, the owner of one of the largest supermarket chains in Brazil, watches the sunrise on the first day of the new millennium from the balcony of her apartment in the Copacabana Palace Hotel in Rio de Janeiro. Her granddaughter, Tita, comes in and surprises her with an old picture in which Olívia, young and pregnant, is seen beside an unknown man and a young boy in a square in Antwerp, Belgium. In another picture from about the same time, Olívia is seen by her husband, Antonio, and her son – who had just passed away – Luiz Felipe.

The truth becomes known: “Olívia” is, in fact, Clarice, the woman in the picture from Antwerp, pregnant with Helena (Tita’s mother), mother of young Bernardo and wife to German Jew Theodor Zuskinder, the father of her children. The true Olívia – the one in the other photo – was her twin sister, with whom she exchanged photo – was her twin sister, with whom she exchanged identities sixty years earlier on a Spanish border while fleeing in the middle of World War II.

After this revelation, Tita takes her grandmother on a trip through time, during which Clarice narrates the saga of her family and the twist of fate that caused them to switch places. Then they take a real trip to Portugal and Antwerp where she finally rescues her long-lost identity.

A story of mistaken identities, loyalties betrayed or kept to the end, and unrequited love, through the horrors of the II World War and Nazism up to nowadays.


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