EMPTY WARDROBES by Maria Judite de Carvalho
Translated by Margaret Jull Costa
Senhora Dora Rosário is left to fend for herself following the untimely death of a husband who insisted she never work but did nothing himself to support her or their young daughter. Taking a job at an antiques shop, scornfully referred to as “The Museum”, she does her best to make ends meet. After ten years, her mother-in-law drops a bombshell: Duarte, that shit of an ex, was preparing to leave her when he died. The revelation sends Dora into a spin, forcing her to question all that has led to this moment, and setting her off on a hapless quest for a better future.
For all its wit and wryness, Empty Wardrobes is a rather depressing affair. Dora strikes a tragic figure, her life prescribed by societal expectations both as wife and widow, her hopes dashed by the failings of the men around her. That those men are so ridiculous and pathetic (albeit very funny) only adds insult to injury, all the more so when one fall for her teenage daughter. Quite ingeniously framed through the recollections of another woman whose lover dumped her for Dora, Empty Wardrobe makes for a sharp but sobering read.
Empty Wardrobes by Maria Judite de Carvalho (Tr. Margaret Jull Costa)
Two Lines Press, 2021 (Orig. 1966)