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Novel set during ARGENTINA’s Dirty War

4th April 2024

The Stone Maidens by Ioulia Kolovou, novel set during Argentina’s Dirty War.

Novel set during ARGENTINA's Dirty War

This is a heart-breaking look into a shocking period in Argentina’s history.

The Stone Maidens by Ioulia Kolovou, is an epic story of love and loss, set over six decades including the period of Argentina’s Dirty War, waged by a brutal regime against its own people, between 1976 – 1983.

It seemed apt that I started reading this historical story, set in rural Patagonia, on International Women’s Day, as the central character, Milagros, lives through the heart-breaking disappearance of members of her family following Eva Peron’s death.  Milagros’s ambition was to be a teacher and, despite the opposition of her father who thought education was of no use to women, she managed to gain a scholarship to a college in Buenos Aires. However, her best laid plans ended when Peron died, taking the funding with her.

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As Milagros settles into life as a servant in the local aristocratic family’s “Big House”, she seems to have accepted her lot until she catches the eye of Don Faustino.  She is forced into marriage with a local boy in a bid to provide a father for her unborn child and, together, they move to Buenos Aires, but, ultimately, she leaves him and ends up back at the Big House.

This decision has traumatic consequences for her young daughter who unwittingly bears the brunt of the inhumanity and sexual violence of a murderous military who ran Argentina at the time and became one of the 30,000 people who died or vanished.

Based on a set of true events, this novel follows Milagros from childhood to old age as she navigates the violence of her country in the mid-twentieth century. A beautifully written book although I felt the inclusion of snippets of a radio drama in the middle pages was unnecessary and interrupted the flow somehow.

Val for the TripFiction Team

Catch our reviewer Val on Twitter X @valproctor 

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