What do HNA members read when they go on holidays? Some of us carry a lot of new books and catalogues, discussed in the HNA Newsletters; others buy a good novel or thriller and try to forget HNA for a couple of days or weeks. However, to those of you who want to combine fun reading with HNA, and who can read Spanish, I would like to recommend this excellent and funny thriller, in which fiction and the concerns of HNA are combined.
The author, born 1963, is an Argentinian psychoanalyst who became a successful novelist – in his country and internationally – since the publication in 1996 of El Anatomista. El secreto de los flamencos is a historical thriller in which Franceso Monterga, a Florentine painter of the late Quattrocento, and the brothers Greg and Dirk Van Mander of Bruges act as bitter rivals. Greg, the older brother, now blind, possesses the secret of perfect oil painting. Each chapter of the book bears a pigment as title: Rojo bermellon, Azul de ultramar and so on, until the final one: Coloris in status purus. One of Monterga’s apprentices, Hubert van der Hans, spent ten years with the Van Mander brothers and is now spying in Monterga’s library. The plot, full of intrigues and crimes, leaves the reader spellbound till the last page when all is revealed. The author evokes Florence and Bruges in a text full of nudges to art history. The cover illustration is a close-up of Van der Weyden’s Portrait of a Lady in the National Gallery of Art, Washington.
I enjoyed very much reading this postmodern pseudo-historical novel while spending some days on the shores of Lago di Garda this summer.
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven