Almudena Solana's The Curriculum Vitae of Aurora Ortiz
book review by anna battista
Aurora Ortiz lives in Madrid. She is thirty and a widow, her husband Roberto having died of a heart attack only three years earlier. During her day she doesn’t seem to have much to do apart from volunteering for an NGO that helps Ecuadorian kids and trying to get over the death of Roberto, so she decides she needs a job. The problem is she doesn’t want any job, but just one: working as a caretaker in a quiet block of flats. With the help of neighbour Fany, Aurora writes a CV that she thinks will convince the nearby Talento job agency that she is the right person for such a job. But, unfortunately, she only manages to attract the attention of the agency for how bizarrely her CVs and cover letters are written.
Aurora doesn’t indeed write conventional CVs, with a few bullet points and references. When she writes, she completely opens up her heart and reveals herself as being an extraordinary unconventional young woman, with a lack of commercial ambition, yes, but with the innocence of a child. “If you gave me a caretaker’s job, I could concentrate on my books again – once I had finished taking out the rubbish, of course. During the course of the day … I’d listen to anybody who had something to say, because if there is one thing that motivates me, it is my terrific curiosity,” Aurora writes in her first curriculum, “You tell me if I’m not curious. I’m telling all of you about my whole life, but all the while, what I’m really wondering is: who is there on the other side of the paper, reading everything I’m saying?” As the story develops, the reader will learn about Aurora’s family and childhood, meet her aunt and uncle at her native village, San Clemente de Quintás, the villagers and the new priest, a jovial young man with a passion for music and a good word for everybody.
The Curriculum Vitae of Aurora Ortiz is the first book by Spanish journalist Almudena Solana and it is written in the best tradition of Spanish literature, echoing in some parts Miguel de Unamuno. The book opens indeed with a quote from his Niebla, one of Unamuno's key works, in which he coined the term nivola, to describe his own style of fiction writing, a work of fiction in which the setting and events of the plot are less important than the ideas expressed by the characters, a bit like in The Curriculum….
In Aurora, Solana has created a character who seems to be far away from the worries of our days in which people are always ranting about jobs and work, but they are never thinking about their real illusions and dreams, their happiness and naivety: in the novel, Fany gets used to her job in a supermarket leaving behind her beautician past and her love for writing, while psychologist Guillermo, stuck in a stressing job he doesn’t even like, has no time to pursue his dream of working in the field of developmental psychology. Solitude and gentleness are the key words to understand Aurora’s life: with her loneliness and gentle ways, she changes the people who surround her, and opens up their hearts.
“We are our blood, we are the people we have seen die, we are the books that have bettered us,” Aurora says towards the end of the novel, quoting an author she can not remember. Almudena Solana’s The Curriculum Vitae of Aurora Ortiz is a gentle and optimist tale, the sort of book that will definitely better whoever will read it.