Release Date: 6/7/2019
At the end of the nineteenth century, before slavery was outlawed in Imperial Brazil, the beautiful 20-year-old Lucya lived with her wealthy family on a coffee plantation in the countryside of São Paulo city. But, despite the apparent tranquility, life was about to turn very bleak for the well-off family and their slaves.
As during other inhuman moments in world history, the freedom and the rights of countless people were deliberately taken by force in the name of power, money, and the greed. In this cruel setting, Lucya’s fate is decided by her father, the feared Baron Rodolfo, proud and insensitive, the patriarch of a renowned and powerful family of coffee growers. For many years, the Baron, an inveterate gambler, squandered the fortune of the family, until one day, his compulsion leads him to incur a huge debt that puts him into bankruptcy, losing the farm and all his slaves.
Ruined and humiliated, the no-longer powerful Baron Rodolfo finds himself obliged for the first time to accept the conditions imposed by another person, the cunning and unscrupulous Frederico. The coward Rodolfo gives his daughter’s hand to his tormentor, a ruthless and cruel man, who conditions the marriage to the beautiful Lucya, as a non-negotiable part of the debt payment.
Desperate and unaware of the truth, Lucya finds herself obliged to accept the unwelcome proposal of Frederico, sacrificing what she wants in her life to save the family. Circumstances of life have given Lucya an unhappy marriage which affects her entire life.
Filled with hatred by the coldness and rejection of his wife, Frederico inflicts consistent abuse on Lucya, that grows cruelly sadistic. Lucya’s resilience and faith give her the love and strength to not give up on life, even more so when she discovers her protective real-life angels in two of the slaves of the farm: mother Nonô and her son Oxalufã.
Throughout this drama of hate and love, arrogance and humility, insanity and wisdom, revenge and forgiveness, revolt and resignation, fear and faith, disillusion and hope, the hand of fate, reaches the characters involved in this story, bringing opportunities for learning and redemption, making them comprehend that, after all, nothing really matters, only love.
This novel reveals the light and shadows that are present in each one of us speaking to the heart and the soul, the mind and the spirit.
Valeria Lopes’ protagonist in “When Nothing Matters”, Lucya, is a woman who faces classism, racism and gender prejudice, told during the period of slavery in Brazil. Her forbidden love, told in sizzling story arcs, is in the manner of a grand Italian opera. But this is a woman who, though depressed, abused and losing her energy and will to live, maintains her dignity through all, as she learns that acceptance and forgiveness are the way to a life of peace, beauty and soulful happiness.
All of her books, best-sellers in Brazil, are now being translated into English and Spanish. What is so sublime about her books is that they all feature independent, smart, feisty women who stand up for themselves. These are genuinely badass women. They are not without flaws, but Ms. Lopes is spot-on in identifying the rough spots and helping her protagonists work through their weaknesses.
Though Ms. Lopes’ books are fiction, there is of course, a reason her female protagonists are the embodiment of strong women. As it is said: “write what you know.”
When mom Nonô got to the office, she knocked lightly twice, then heard a rough voice:
“It is me, Baron.”
“I can see that. Come closer.”
Frederico observed that mom Nonô had great difficulty walking due to her old age. He thought:
“Well, this negra is too old. I believe the whip would not be a good way to make her tell me where her son is—she would not last even the first whiplash. I have to find another way of making this slave talk.”
Raising his voice to intimidate her, Frederico snarled, “Come on, tell me straight, where is that wretched negro hiding?”
“With all due respect, Baron, I am not willing to say. First, because I am his mother, and second, because I really do not know where my son is.”
Irritated, Frederico reacted by punching his desk so hard that some of the objects on it fell on the floor. He balled his fists and yelled furiously, “A slave is not a mother! Slave women only bring black children into the world to be barons’ and colonels’ slaves, nothing more than that.”
Mom Nonô calmly replied, “The Baron is mistaken. Blacks are human beings with feelings, just like the white man. The color of the skin makes us no different from you.”
“Shut up, your dirty old woman! If you say another word, I swear I am going to put you on a stake. I can guarantee that if that happens, you are not going to live another minute of your wretched life!”
Mom Nonô simply looked at Frederico, who suddenly felt threatened by her. He became dizzy, then felt overcome by a sharp sense of discomfort. The strength of that black woman’s look deeply bothered him and gave him an unwelcome sense of weakness.
“Stop looking at me like that! Your eyes are bothering me!”
“I am sorry, Baron, but it is not my eyes that are bothering you, but your conscience.”
“Goddamn old woman! You are like your son, he certainly takes after you! You are lucky, being old, but do not test my patience. I am going to find that negro, whatever it takes, you can be sure. And when that happens, I will make sure to kill him right in front of you. Now get out!”
For the first time in his life, Frederico felt threatened—scared of an old slave! As soon as mom Nonô left the office, he locked the door, still without any comprehension of why he was feeling weak and shaken, while a cold sweat ran down his face. Baffled and furious, he sat down and thought:
“This negra is the incarnation of evil! I need to do something. I do not want her alive!”
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