To our lovers, wives and husbands, are we all merely substitutes? Are we loved simply because this is where we are at a particular place at a particular time in the life of the other, and is that love, as well as being a matter of chance, a matter of subsitution? These, and many other intruiging questions are put to us by Maria Dolz, the introspective narrator of a novel by Spanish writer, Javier Marias, The Infatuations. One could say that Marias under-promises and over delivers. What begins as an interesting insight into the interior life of Maria evolves into a philosphical murder mystery with more twists and turns than a yoga class.
Vain, pretentious, self-important, irritating frauds, Maria's writers encapsulate the narcissism that has infected modern culture. Her views on substitution are another kick in the teeth for narcissists when she proposes that there could always be another person to take our place and another person to take the place of the one we love.But the novel is so much more than self-parody.