From the extraordinary Colombian French politician and activist Ingrid Betancourt, a stunning debut novel about freedom and fate
Set against the backdrop of Argentina’s Dirty War and infused with magical realism, The Blue Line is a breathtaking story of love and betrayal by one of the world’s most renowned writers and activists. Ingrid Betancourt, author of the New York Times bestselling memoir Even Silence Has an End, draws on history and personal experience in this deeply felt portrait of a woman coming of age as her country falls deeper and deeper into chaos.
Buenos Aires, the 1970s. Julia inherits from her grandmother a gift, precious and burdensome. Sometimes visions appear before her eyes, mysterious and terrible apparitions from the future, seen from the perspective of others. From the age of five, Julia must intervene to prevent horrific events. In fact, as her grandmother tells her, it is her duty to do so—otherwise she will lose her gift.
At fifteen, Julia falls in love with Theo, a handsome revolutionary four years her senior. Their lives are turned upside down when Juan Perón, the former president and military dictator, returns to Argentina. Confronted by the realities of military dictatorship, Julia and Theo become Montoneros sympathizers and radical idealists, equally fascinated by Jesus Christ and Che Guevara. Captured by death squadrons, they somehow manage to escape. . . .
In this remarkable novel, Betancourt, an activist who spent more than six years held hostage by the FARC in the depths of Colombian jungle, returns to many of the themes of Even Silence Has an End. The Blue Line is a story centered on the consequences of oppression, collective subservience, and individual courage, and, most of all, the notion that belief in the future of humanity is an act of faith most beautiful and deserving.
Betancourt, the Colombian politician held hostage for six years by FARC terrorists (the subject of her memoir Even Silence Has an End), attempts in her first novel to set a personal story of love, loyalty, and sacrifice against the backdrop of brutal repression during Argentina's Dirty War of the 1970s and '80s. Her protagonist, Julia, who has inherited the gift of foretelling the future from her grandmother, grows up in an increasingly oppressive Buenos Aires as her country witnesses the second coming of former general and soon-to-be dictator Juan Peron. She becomes active among revolutionaries who initially welcome Peron's return, one of whom, Theodoro d'Uccello, she takes as her lover. Together they become increasingly radicalized, but Julia continues to have disturbing visions and is devastated when she fails to warn an activist priest in time to save him from being gunned down by a military assassin. Both Julia and Theo are eventually captured by death squads, but not before they conceive a child, who quite unbelievably survives Julia's torture and imprisonment. The couple is separated while attempting to escape, and for years Julia, while raising their son, Ulysses, searches for news of Theo. The author's narrative jumps back and forth across time, but the convoluted switches create confusion rather than depth, despite the fact that the chapters describing Julia's capture, torture, and the camaraderie among prisoners ring frighteningly true.