Review | All This I Will Give to You, Dolores Redondo

36689501When Manuel’s husband Álvaro dies in a car crash, he learns that the man he thought he knew was actually keeping a lifetime’s worth of secrets from him. It turns out Álvaro is actually a marquis, and his family is one of the wealthiest, most powerful and most secretive in the region. An unofficial investigation into Álvaro’s death leads Manuel to dig deep into Álvaro’s life, and come to terms with the truth about the man he loved.

All This I Will Give to You won the Planeta Prize, and it’s easy to see why. The writing is beautiful, and the story and the characters compelling. I found myself easily hooked by Manuel’s story, and sympathising with him as he gradually peels back layer after layer of his husband’s story.

I’m a huge fan of mysteries involving family drama — which is why I’m such a big fan of Agatha Christie’s works. Redondo gives us a wonderfully complex web of family tensions and machinations. I enjoyed meeting the various characters in Álvaro’s family and community, and I thought the things that were revealed later on felt very fitting. I also really liked the way the character of the police detective developed, and what we learned about his family and their drama.

I also love how Redondo highlights the incredible influence and importance the Catholic Church has on her characters. This is not a religious book at all, but it does show the Church’s role on a cultural / social level. Having grown up in the Philippines, I know how much respect — and at times reverence — people can feel towards members of the clergy, and I love how pervasive their presence felt in the novel, even when they weren’t necessarily the highlight. For example, Álvaro’s funeral was conducted by a full team of priests — as a lapsed Catholic, Manuel was skeptical about this display, and I like that Álvaro’s childhood friend Lucas (himself a priest) contextualized the practice as a sign of respect for a powerful family.

The book did feel a bit long, and the middle dragged at times. The story also moves pretty slowly, and despite the compelling nature of the story, it wasn’t exactly a page turner. However, I really enjoyed the book overall, and found the ending satisfying.

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Thank you to Thomas Allen Ltd for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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