"To every Argentine immigrant, July 9 is a day that brings back memories of family celebrations centered around food, wine, and heart-pounding renditions of national theme playing on every radio and TV across the nation. July 9 is Independence Day. A day of freedom and new beginnings. But to those Argentines living in America, it's also a day to admit with a fair amount of guilt that they chose to give up their old life for the intangible, unexplainable dream of. . . something better."
- Evenings at the Argentine Club by Julia Amante
So opens, Julia Amante's newest work, Evenings at the Argentine Club. Julia Amante fashions a story around the lives of two families that have emigrated from Argentina to the United States. She captures with depth and sympathy the points of view of the many and diverse characters.
You'll meet the Torres family. At twenty-eight years, Victoria, has worked for the family restaurant, La Parilla, and the Argentine Cafe, ever since she left college. Vivacious, organized, and kind, she has handled the decorations, celebrations, daycare and helped develop a sense of community. It's been seemed natural for her to step in, so much so, that she's hasn't considered going after her own dreams but this changes. Victor Torres, her ambitious and protective father, who dreams of opening a chain of successful restaurants and returning back to Buenos Aires with his lovely wife. Jacqueline Torres, who has made her family her life and is only now allowing herself to feel lonely and disaffected with her daughter gone. Fortunately, Jacqueline is well loved and easy to befriend - her old friends and new help her ride the transition and find her own path.
The Ortelli family has its own secrets. Eric Ortelli, the successful son, visits home for the first time in years. He spent years building a career and business from scratch. He doesn't expect the hostility and disapproval from his old friends and the Argentine community, but he's determined to make a success of his new venture and to help Victoria with the changes in her life. His father Antonio Ortelli was disappointed when Eric chose not to go to law school but he tries to understand his son's new business. Antonio tries to offer his advice and get involved in Eric's business, but his optimism and business naivete threatens their fragile relationship. Lucia Ortelli is happy just to have her family together in one roof. Lucia can't help dreaming that her Eric will fall in love with her best friend's daughter Victoria and that the young couple will choose to make their lives in the neighborhood.
I thoroughly enjoyed Evenings at the Argentine Club for many reasons. What I loved most about the book is how it captures so well the longings, sacrifices, and the compromises that accompany the immigrant experience. Each person balances the desire to succeed in their new country with the love and longing for a place or time that was left behind.
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (September 25, 2009), 352 pages.
Review copy provided by Hatchette Book Group.
About the Author, courtesy of Amazon:
Julia Amante, women's fiction author, lives in California in a home filled with bits and pieces of her Argentine heritage. Paintings of Argentine towns. A colorful leather map with the outline of Argentina. Pictures and trinkets. However, the real details of her beautiful culture unfolded gradually as she grew up the daughter of Argentine immigrants. Today, a product of the American Dream, Julia writes emotionally rich stories about family love, and the passion of chasing and achieving life's goals.
Julia is a proud mother and wife, a teacher, and a lover of life and it's many gifts. Following her passion to detail life in writing as well as share the joys of writing with other aspiring writers, Julia is currently pursuing an MFA. Julia has presented workshops at the Latino Book and Family Festival, the Mexican-American Organization Foundation, the Latina Business Women Organization, as well as in colleges such as the University of California, Riverside, Cal. State Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara City College.
Thank you so much to Hatchette Book Group for this opportunity!
If you'd like your own copy of this book, do enter the Hatchette Book Group Hispanic Heritage Celebration Contest at Harlem Writer until Oct 20. Find out more at