“One cannot and must not try to erase the past merely because it does not fit the present.” — Golda Meir
New York, 1998. Wealthy Argentinian diplomat, Santiago Larrea, is hosting a soiree with this wife and 21-year-one daughter, Paloma, to celebrate his appointment as Argentina’s ambassador to the United Nations. When a party guest makes an intriguing off-handed remark about her father’s university days, Paloma is determined to learn more about his life in the years leading up to the military dictatorship of 1976.
When the family travels to Buenos Aires for Santiago’s UN ambassadorial appointment, Paloma is determined to learn more about his life in the years leading up to the military dictatorship of 1976. Through her sleuthing she becomes attached to student Franco Bonetti, an activist member of H.I.J.O.S. — a group whose members are the children of the Desaparecidos, the estimated 30,000 people who were forcibly disappeared, tortured, and murdered by the Argentine Anticommunist Alliance during the “Dirty War” from 1974 to 1983.
The novel’s dual narrative shifts between Paloma’s 1998 quest to uncover her father’s past to Santiago’s life in the 1970s and the choices he made as a young playboy law student leading up to the coup. The history depicted in this novel is important, and the author clearly conducted extensive research to bring it to light. I knew little Argentinian history prior to reading On a Night of a Thousand Stars. Unfortunately, I was never emotionally invested in the characters or the storylines, although I will say the one set in the past was far more engaging. The dual narratives were confusing because of their multiple love matches. In the end, I just didn’t like the writing. This is Clark’s debut, and I’ll give her another try if she writes another book. 3.5 stars.
Published Date: March 2022
Genre: Historical fiction
Read-alikes: House on Endless Waters by Emunah Elon; The Memory Stones by Caroline Brothers; The Art of Losing by Alice Zeniter.