Female desire and betrayal, marriage, the ability to lead a double life, and how children shape their daily lives are themes that shape Stories of married womenThe work for which Cristina Campos was a finalist for the 2022 Planeta Prize. A book featuring, as the author describes this medium, “women over 40, financially independent from their husbands, white, European and privileged women”.
The novel has a powerful opening, describing the final orgasm that one of them, Gabriela, shares with her lover. An episode with a strong sexual component, with the writer looking to make readers “not go to Netflix”. Of course, while there is “explicit sex,” he maintains that the volume is “not erotic.” In addition, he wanted to explore how men manage to separate sex from feeling. “It would be great if women did it too,” she insists.
Then this is the second novel of the Catalan Lemon Poppy Seed Bread (2016), which was made into a movie by Benito Zambrano last year. Campos is sure that his new text will also make it to the big screen. “There are already several production companies interested in buying the rights,” he continues.
The writer argues that “the generation of women who reach 50 are not so feminist, nor are we empowered because we are the caretakers.” Hence, he chooses to avoid both words when describing the characters in his book. “We drink from our parents’ ancestral heritage, from a conservative marriage,” he adds. The author argues that change should be brought about through education. On the other hand, it proposes to repeat the Scandinavian model and extend the maternity leave to one year.
Where does the desire to tell these stories come from? Stories of married women?
My heroes are women in their 40s who are financially independent from their husbands, white, European, and privileged; Which is the condition of me and the people around me. The novel revolves around female infidelity and asks what happens if you have a wonderful family, a wonderful boy crosses your path and desire covers you. It was a game: to be brave enough to be unfaithful to one’s husband at the risk it entails. And see the difference in men’s ability to be unfaithful without being in love, or even able to lead a double life. And, on the contrary, the difficulty of doing this for a married woman.
Why do women experience infidelity differently than men?
I wish this didn’t happen to us and we could have sex apart. Gabriela is married to an intelligent man who loves her, but her sexual desire is different after a while with her husband. This does not mean that you do not continue to make love with him, you love him very much, but you do not want him. The ability that men have to separate the sexes seemed like a good topic for a finger. I read treatises on the psychology of the female brain, but mostly I talked to friends who were unfaithful. The four that were me eventually fell in love and broke up. However, my friends who were, did not. And so it is again. Women in their thirties are much more feminist and empowered, which is hard for me to say. We drink from our parents’ ancestral heritage, from a conservative marriage.
I wish we women could separate sex from feeling
What would happen if we women could separate the sexes?
It would be great, honestly. We are not in a society where cheating is a sin. The polyamorous thing would be nice. Why not? It is impossible to endure the desire of the first three years of love for the rest of your life. And even more so, when married routine comes in, tiredness of everyday life and children. Today, marriage does not limit freedom, children close their wings.
Thanks to my husband taking care of them, I’m here now for a promotion and I’m going to spend a month traveling. He is my team, we both have very strong jobs and we have to help each other all the time. Another issue is the lightness that men have to leave behind. If they have to shoot outside, they don’t think about it. And we have a sense of belonging to the child.
The book begins with a chapter full of erotica. Why did you choose this start?
I’m starting strong, because if not, readers are going to Netflix. The first ten pages are beasts. They talk about their last orgasm with their girlfriend, which is heartbreaking. It happens to me too, I’m tired at night and if the book doesn’t hook me too much, I start watching something else. The goal was to spark interest in understanding how Gabriela came to this situation. The novel has a cinematic rhythm due to my training as a screenwriter.
Marriage does not limit freedom, children close the wings
Is there enough talk about women’s desire?
The French writers I relied on, including this year’s Nobel laureate in literature, Arnie Hernaud, whom I had been reading for three years, unashamedly exposed themselves mentally to the reader. It’s harder for me to find it in Spain. My novel is not erotic, although there is obvious sex. I’m talking about how heartbreaking it can be for a woman to be truly in love and in such a cruel situation.
His previous novel Lemon Poppy Seed Bread, was adapted into a movie. Do you want the same to happen here?
Yes, there are already several production companies interested in buying the rights; But now I enjoy it all. I have a very strong year ahead and I don’t want to think about it. However, I would certainly be delighted. I’m sure it will because it’s very cinematic, even for a TV series.
In the novel itself, its title is the conversation, Stories of married women, because it coincides with the weekly column written by Gabriela. Is there something ironic about it?
No. For my previous novel published with Planeta, I suggested the title and we ended up meeting Lemon Poppy Seed BreadWhich was much better. However, the first thing that stood out to me was the title. I told them that I am going, which is good, they will say and it will be sold. We have not changed it once, which is rare. You learn to write, it’s a trade.
Why are you conflicted about saying “feminist and empowered”?
My generation, those of us approaching fifty, are neither as feminist nor as empowered because we are caregivers. Then they are ready, but you have to ask them. Feminism is education and that they are educated to be feminists. My father, who is a very smart man, does not wash the dishes. However, my daughter shares everything half-heartedly with her boyfriend. We come from an ancestral heritage.
There is a moment in the novel in which Gabriela and German have a monumental confrontation because he has to go to an event with forty other engineers. He tells him that he will stop working for a year and he has to continue because someone has to bring home the money. The novel talks about it. Maternity leave in Scandinavian countries is one year. Here are four months of nothing. We will start being feminists when they agree with us because someone has to make money.
We want to take care of our little ones. If given the choice, a woman would usually want to quit her job to take care of them. I quit my job two years ago to take care of my last business. At work, he has already achieved what he wanted. James [Balagueró, su pareja] He said if I was sure he was going to give me something. It’s all in the novel. And I can insist on spending two years without a job because I am financially privileged. Take maternity leave for a year and you’ll see how women of my generation are starting to become more feminist. Sometimes men can’t make that sacrifice, and neither can society.
Source: El Diario