It is among the arid scenarios of Morocco (incidentally, the starting point of history is Casablanca) the bohemian charms of Brazil in the 70s, and – of course – between Cascais and the South Bank in Portugal – that the novel unfolds in the way of thriller that Louise Jeremiah just published. In Renascer, Luisa Jeremiah reconstructs the mysterious and captivating story of Maria do Carmo and Francisco: she, a woman of 40 who has just realized that her life, after all, is not a fairy tale, and that decides to simulate his own death, he, a cunning policeman who does not conform until he discovers carminho’s whereabouts. Francisco is sure that she is alive, and that the tragic scenario she faced at Cape Espichel is staged. Is it true? It’s up to the reader to figure it out.
Full of analepses and prolepses, the book reveals, little by little, the reasons that led Carminho to stage his death, while deconstructing the personality of a strong but vulnerable woman and recounts the tragic episodes that led her to desire to “be reborn” in this way.
Renascer (Casa das Letras) is the second novel by Luísa Jeremias, who in 2011 published Preciso de Ti. Luisa is also the author of Pink Planet, where he uncovered stories and secrets about celebrities and explained how the relationship between the press and celebrities is made, in a constant juggling. She is a journalist and magazine director in the society and television segment of the Cofina group. At Máxima, it reveals what it was like to dress the skin of Maria do Carmo and build a novel with suspense worthy of a narrative of Agatha Christie.
Where is the desire to write a novel with a touch of thriller born?
I’m a reader of the genre. Reader, spectator, fan… The theme of simulating a death to start living again was something that had been in my head for some time now. Because it questions how many lives we can live, whether it’s possible to start all over, start from zero point and gain another personality. More: if it is possible to forget the past or if, on the contrary, it marks us forever. Alongside this, she was obsessed with writing a two-voice story with two narrators of the same story. Because there’s not just a vision of the “truth.” Everyone has their own. And so comes Renascer, narrated by the protagonist, and by the police who seek her.
What was the starting point for the story unfolding in Reborn? Was it something you’ve wanted to write for a long time?
The starting point is: can we take things for granted? Everything that seems to corresponds to a reality. The main character, Carminho, seems to have a perfect life and, a succession of events leads her to realize that there is nothing. That your fairy tale is over. You lose everything you took for granted. And that’s when you start to wonder what’s worth it, what you’re doing here, what you want out of life. And then she realizes she needs to be reborn to find what she believes to be happiness.
Could this be the story of any other woman? Did you get inspired by anyone in particular?
I believe that all of us, at one or another time in our lives, thought we’d leave everything and start over. That may have been more or less pronounced. But it could have happened. I don’t know if it could be any woman’s story, but I think we’re all going to identify with Carminho’s feelings and moods. We live many chimeras, we feed on dreams, we create images of those around us who so often do not correspond to the truth, but to our desire. Women are naturally romantic, they believe in good. So when life hits them, the clash can be very big and the reaction sometimes harder than you might think.
The idea of being reborn is always implicit in the narrative. Is it also a certain moral criticism of the state of the world, to the fact that we live in a certain way “anesthetized”?
We live in a society that gives more and more importance to “opinion” and not to “being”. A futile society, which shows itself from social networks as in a storefront. At the time this story was going on, 10 years ago, social networks still had no strength. But everything else existed. The fast-paced, make-up of appearances. The main character lives all this, in a bubble, in an unreal world that suddenly realizes that it does not exist. Interestingly this book is released at a time when we are still experiencing a pandemic, in which we put much of what is our life in question and realize that we have to be reborn – in another way, of course, but each in its own way. Materiality as a “god” that reigns over all values has been called into question. As it was in this story. It remains to be seen how it will be from now on and whether, as in the novel, we will be able or not to “erase” or at least “give a twist” to a past marked by these values.
It also turns out to be a satire to the fact that women are constantly pressured by society (and men) – to be mothers, to carry the house on their backs, to find “the perfect man”… was it intentional or the fruit of your experience as a journalist?
I think it was more a fruit of my experience as a woman than as a journalist! Women have more eyes on them than men. I hate to distinguish gender because I believe that’s what creates the differences. But whether they like it or not, they exist. It’s that cliché: a woman gets old, a man gets mature; a woman is a frivolous (not to say worse), a man is a heartthrob. And so on. Society is highly prejudiced towards women. If they have “power” then even worse: they become the shrews on duty. I’ve been through all this in my life and the fact that I don’t have children by choice. And I know what I heard, in the “poor” version, “yes”… In any of these cases either you have self-esteem or else criticism becomes a problem. Society, whether or not, continues to believe that women would be great at home, taking care of husbands and children, preferably to be supported by them – not to be independent. That’s the reality. It’s (still) a men’s world.
Do you think it can also be interpreted as a book that teaches you the way to be happy? Rediscovery?
I hope it’s interpreted that way. I hope it helps a lot of people come back to believe and realize their dreams. You don’t have to be as drastic as in the book. Being reborn may not mean changing everything. It may simply be believing that it is possible to change to be happy. That it’s worth following the dreams, the wills – and this is not a cliché. It’s true, it’s true. If the book makes you think and then get better, even a little bit, it’s worth it. Because we all have a right to be happy.
What gave you the most pleasure in the whole process of constructing the narrative of the book?
Narrate a story in two voices. Tell the same events through the narrator, protagonist, Maria do Carmo, who goes through all this. But also by the look of the man who crosses in his life, the policeman Francisco de Assis, who has a history as strong and fascinating as hers. They are opposite, total, and yet have inner similarities. Create parallel actions in their lives, in their own pasts – while she, a child, leaves for Brazil, he, a child, returns from Angola after April 25. They are two free spirits, created in opposite environments. She loses her father, so does he. And i won’t tell you or I’m a spoiler! You have to read the book to understand how opposites meet. That was fantastic to write.