Evenings at the Argentine Club is a tale of love and family relationships set in modern Southern California. It centers on two families, The Torres and the Ortellis, who came to the US from Argentina to follow their dreams and 'make it' in America. Together with other families, they formed The Argentine Club, a place where they meet on Sundays for entertainment and as a way to preserve their traditions.
The story begins many years after the club was formed and our protagonist, Victoria Torres, is already twenty-eight years old. Victoria still lives with her parents, helping her father with his restaurant business, La Parrilla. From the start, we get the feeling that although Victoria loves her family with all her heart and wants to make her father proud, she also silently regrets not finishing college and pursuing her dreams to become 'someone'. She feels a bit lost, mostly following the plans set out for her--mainly by her father--and putting her desires aside.
Then one weekend, during an evening at the club, Victoria meets Eric Ortellis, the son of her parents' best friends. From that day on, Victoria's life begins to change. The change doesn't happen overnight but gradually. Eric is considered a 'black sheep', a lost son who has come back to his family after many years of being away. Eric had his reasons--to make it on his own and somehow 'escape' the fatality of their little town--but no one seems to understand. Soon Victoria is influenced and affected by his ambition and views about life and the Argentine culture. A transformation begins to take place in Victoria's character, one that deeply affects her relationship with her family but especially with her father, who has never given her total credit for the smart young woman that she really is. More tension arises when Victoria and Eric begin to feel attracted to each other.
The story is told from various points of views, including Victoria's and Eric's parents, offering a clear snapshot of their family dynamics. In the end, it is not only Victoria who changes, but her friends and family as well.
Evenings at the Argentine Club is an absorbing novel that sheds light into the Argentine immigrants living in the United States. It is also a love story between two different people who share the same cultural background. The author has done an excellent job in creating everyday, genuine characters that shine on every page. The secondary characters are as compelling as the protagonists. I was hooked from the start by Amante's simple, smooth prose and by the lives of these people, their culture and beliefs. Even though the story centers on an Argentinean family, the themes and family dramas explored in the novel are universal. Above all, I loved the author's genuine voice and unpretentious writing style. I recommend you pick this one up!
Evenings at the Argentine Club
By Julia Amante
Grand Central Publishing