Monday, January 16, 2023

Bibliotherapy - Skylight by Jose Saramago

 Skylight by Jose Saramago

Ordinary people with ordinary lives each with its own drama.

From Amazon web site : Lisbon, late-1940s. The inhabitants of an old apartment block are struggling to make ends meet. There’s the elderly shoemaker and his wife who take in a solitary young lodger; the woman who sells herself for money and jewelry; the cultivated family come down in the world; and the beautiful typist whose boss can’t keep his eyes off her.

Poisonous relationships, happy marriages, jealousy, gossip and love – Skylight brings together the joys and grief of ordinary people. One of his earliest novels, it provides an entry into Saramago’s universe but was lost for decades and published, as per his wishes, after his death.

Skylight is reportedly one of Saramago’s first novels which he wrote in his 30s and was never published until after his death. It is about the tenants of an apartment building in Lisbon, Portugal, in the late 1940s. Each of the families is quite different although they live together and their lives are interconnected. 

Along with the gossip and intrigue are philosophical reflections on the meaning of life manifested in their behavior and in their conversations. A student of human behavior and emotional life will find the characters and their daily struggles familiar, understandable, and perhaps imitable or not.

Some of the characters are happy, some confused, some perturbed. 

Skylight is a good book for a discussion group. It would be interesting to see what characters people identify with and why. Skylight also describes many interactions and interpersonal dynamics that are ripe for description and understanding. How might situations have been handled differently to bring about better results?

Skylight is recommended to people interested in human nature and what makes people tick. The characters are ordinary people living ordinary lives but each filled with drama of their own making. The degree of self awareness is variable among the characters with Sylvestre, the cobbler, seeming to be the most mature of them all.

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