During my first two years or so in Argentina, the opportunity to read an English-language book was something of a luxury; however, all that changed in 2012 thanks to my Kindle. I read a number of interesting and engaging stories last year, and I'd like to share my thoughts about one of them, The Church of Tango: a Memoir by Cherie Magnus.
I first met Cherie, a retired librarian and former belly dancer, a few years back when she traveled to Mar del Plata on a visit with her partner Rubén. We had initially connected through our blogs and thought it would be great to meet in real life. Cherie struck me as a joyful person, someone with a true zest for living, an impression that was further strengthened through subsequent meetings. She spoke about her old life in the U.S. in a wistful sort of way, but I chalked that up to standard-issue expat behavior, that is, until I read her book.
I never would have guessed that the vivacious, smiling Cherie I'd come to know had experienced so much loss in her life and, well, just plain bad luck. But there is life after loss. Cherie's story proves that.
Although the title may indicate otherwise, the main focus of this memoir isn't really on the tango. It tells the story of a woman who had built a beautiful life for herself and then watched it all crumble as fate cruelly dealt her one blow after another. Yet, in spite of the death of loved ones, battles with illness, and betrayal, Cherie shows us that even in our most broken moments, we must keep moving forward. By literally putting one foot in front of the other, dance, and more specifically, the tango, gave her the strength to put one foot in front of the other in a metaphorical sense, too. In the hopes of regaining some of what she'd lost, Cherie's journey takes her from Los Angeles to France, then Mexico, and lastly, Buenos Aires. Here she finds solace in the Argentine capital's many milongas (tango dance halls), and she begins to build a new life for herself through the tango.
It's clear to me that Cherie possesses an indomitable spirit, but much like the haunting strains of the tango, I also see in her a touch of melancholy and nostalgia for the past. Perhaps that's why she finally found her home in Buenos Aires.
If 2012 was a difficult year for you, pick up The Church of Tango and be inspired.
Disclosure: While the author did provide a complimentary review copy of this book, the opinions expressed here are strictly my own. This post also contains an affiliate link that helps support this blog.