Claudia Piñeiro: All Yours – Tuya (2003) An Argentinian Crime Novel

I had never heard of Claudia Piñeiro before I saw her book All Yours reviewed on Guy’s blog. I wanted to read more Latin American literature this year and an Argentinian crime novel sounded like a good start.

All Yours, or Tuya as it is called in Spanish, is as entertaining as it is amusing. It introduces us to the world of Inés, a middle-aged housewife, mother of Lali and wife of Ernesto. A real perfectionist when it comes to her home and keeping up appearances, a master in the art of self-delusion. More than once while reading I was exclaiming “What a nutter”.  Of course I was glad that she was such a nutter as this is why Tuya is so entertaining.

When Inés discovers a lipstick-written note, a heart signed “All Yours”, in her husbands briefcase, we are at first startled to hear that she doesn’t think it’s all that bad. After all, she believes, sooner or later all men cheat on their wives. The outcome purely depends on how gracefully the wife handles it.

Since her own unfaithful father left her mother after having been confronted with his infidelity, Inés decides not to act but to observe. One night when her husband is called to his office – there seems to be a computer related emergency which happens quite frequently -, she follows him. Of course he doesn’t drive to the office and Inés observes him while he meets with his secretary in Palermo Park. They are fighting and at one point Ernesto pushes the secretary away. The woman trips, falls and breaks her neck in the fall. How wonderful, Inés thinks, she will help her husband to cover up the whole incident. She will provide him with an alibi… But for the time being, she stays in the dark, drives home and doesn’t say a word that she has watched everything. Inés is happy, she believes that the secretary was Ernesto’s lover, and now that she is dead, nothing can separate them anymore. Right? Not quite, as we will see and from here on, things do not go as planned at all.

This isn’t the only instance in which Inés is wrong and we start to learn that absolutely nothing is at is seems in this novel and that what Inés pretends to be a picture book family is in reality rotting from the inside.

All Yours is told in alternating points of view. The most important parts are Inés’ first person narratives. Being a highly unreliable narrator, she tries to pretend everyting is fine until the very end of the book. Other parts of the story focus on Lali, Inés’ daughter. They are in dialogue form and reveal that the daughter has as much to hide as her parents but that she knows everyting about the two of them. Lali blames and hates her mother more than anyone else and towards the end of the book we realize she may have reason. Some of the chapters are police reports and third person narratives. Each of these elements together give the reader the full picture.

All Yours reminded me a lot of German crime writer Ingrid Noll’s novels in which seemingly harmless and invisible women start to develop their criminal and vengeful side. They are perfectionists, driven by an urge to save appearances at any price. We don’t warm to these women, we don’t feel for them but we enjoy the delicious frisson that we experience while following them on their journey towards retribution.

32 thoughts on “Claudia Piñeiro: All Yours – Tuya (2003) An Argentinian Crime Novel

  1. Glad you liked it Caroline. It’s a lot of fun, its’t it? I hope you can read Thursday Night Widows sometime. Thanks for the comparison to Ingrild Noll, BTW, someone I haven’t read yet.

  2. I’m really looking forward to reading this–I loved her first book Thursday Night Widows, which I highly recommend if you want to continue reading her work. Her first book wasn’t really a traditional crime novel and this one doesn’t sound so either, which is not a bad thing since she has a style all her own. And I think I still have one unread novel to read by Noll, which I think I might save for just the right moment! I’m not sure how many books she has written but I hope that Bitter Lemon Press keeps publishing her works in English!

    • It is unusual but I did remind me of Noll. Although I would say Noll is more sophisticated. I really don’t understand why nobody translates her anymore.
      I think Pineiro has written 3 or 4 novels so far and I’m sure they will be translated. The reactions are very positive. I’ll read another one that’s for sure.

  3. caroline, i cannot tell you how intrigued i am… i wish i could just ask you to tell me the whole story now, but of course, you’ll tell me to read it myself.
    Which will! TBR list!

  4. ow I like this kind of book, we got to understand the story through many sources, like newspaper and police reports. Carrie was like that and there was also a book by Japanese author written this way.

    I think the main character is so naive, thinking all men will eventually cheat and be content with it…not really my kind of fav character

    • I like it when they use different sources and points of view. You have to see this book in its context. It’s also a criticism of machismo and precisely the fact that a lot, not all men, cheat on their women and that then women remain passive. Not this one. 🙂

  5. I’ve never read anything by Piñeiro, Caroline, but I’ll have to keep this in mind in the event I want to read some lighter crime fare at some point. For some reason, I often like the alternating viewpoint narration style for crime fiction and thriller material.

  6. I love the way you write this review – the book sounds irresistible! I read very little crime outside British and American writers (oh and the occasional Fred Vargas novel) and should stretch myself a bit. i will look out for this.

    • Thanks, Litlove. I hope you will like it. I’m keen on reading “Elena sabe” – it’s called “Elena et le roi détrôné” in French and it’s about a young woman who commits suicide. Her mothers tries to find out what happend but it seems she (the mother) isn’t entirely as innocent as one may think. I need to read it soon.

  7. Wonderful review, Caroline! I liked your tantalizing description of the story 🙂 I want to read this book now! I have never read an Argentinian book till now. I think I would like to address that reading gap of mine now 🙂

    • Thanks, Vishy. I have bought a few Argentinian novels which Richard recommeneded to me but after reading Guys’ review I couldn’t let this one pass. I want to read more now.

  8. I ve another argentina crime novel I ve just been sent in fact I m snowed under with argentina fiction as two other novels coming due out soon but nice see a female writer translated from there so be looking out for this and comparing to the other one Ive got ,all the best stu

  9. Pingback: On Claudia Piñeiro’s “Elena sabe” (Elena Knows) – “Elena weiss Bescheid” (2007) | Beauty is a Sleeping Cat

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