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Virginia Feito triumphs in the US with the novel 'La Señora March': the success of a Madrilenian who writes in English

He was in the office of the advertising agency where he worked and suddenly he imagined a woman walking down the street with a fur coat and a handbag short handle hanging from the wrist. The overture of 'The Nutcracker'

by Tchaikovsky was playing and his mind insisted on knowing who would be that lady who aroused so much interest in him, why she was anxious and why she wanted to hurt him. This is how the protagonist of 'Mrs. March' was born, the first novel by Virginia Feito that the Lumen publishing house has just published in Spanish translated by Gemma Rovira Ortega. A story that takes place in the atmosphere of the elite New York society in an unidentified year, when there were still no cell phones but television.

Although he was born and lives in Madrid, Feito writes in English and the Liveright publishing house had already released the book in United States in August 2021. She herself did not expect the overwhelming success she has had, although to write it she jumped into the pool and left her job and n that company where I did ads for big commercial brands. “I fantasized about succeeding with the book, which is not the same as being sure of it,” she explains to El Periódico de España. “What I did know was that if I didn't quit work I wasn't going to write it. She was a spoiled princess who said she had to have time to focus, super smug. But the fear of having nothing else to do was what he needed. I work better under pressure.”

Feito talks fast and does jokes about herself in each answer. Explanations for many of the details of the story of 'Mrs. March' are easily extracted from her biography. For example, how well he has been able to portray the wealthy Manhattan society in which the plot takes place. His father is a former Spanish ambassador to the OECD in Paris, and for that job the family went to the city many times, where they did not exactly stay in boarding houses in Queens. “When I traveled over the years with my parents to New York it was crazy five star. All we did was go up and down Fifth Avenue and then eat oysters at the Palace“, Explain.

Paris, England and Brooklyn

Her vision changed when she settled there, but this time as a scholarship student. “I lived in an area of ​​Brooklyn

that was not yet cool and I was no longer going to see Woody Allen play at the Carlyle. Of course, I missed that glamorous world, “he says. To her, unlike the protagonist of the book, that environment does not seem hateful. “I want to belong to him,” he says between laughs. “It is also true that it puts a lot of pressure on you. At that younger age I felt the need to impress and if we went to an expensive restaurant I wanted them to accept me”.

The author studied at an American school in Paris, in a British school in Madrid and studied English Literature and Dramatic Arts in England

. His education has been in English, hence he has not written his first book in Spanish. “I only read in English and I watch movies and series in the original version. All the vocabulary or any idea that I absorb is in that language. I also see 'The Island of Temptations' like everyone else, but in general everything is in English. I'm at a point where it makes me a little uncomfortable to read in Spanish because I'm not used to it, it takes a lot out of the story. I have come to read Mariana Enríquez

translated. And if you want to write well, you have to read well and I do it in English”, he says.

Of Anglo-Saxon schools, he recalls that: “Americans review everything 187 times and demand a lot. I think I was reading 'Jane Eyre' when I was eleven years old, and I was being shown movies like 'Lord of the Flies' and 'Amadeus' when I was nine years old. But they boosted your potential whatever it was, creativity included. They motivated me a lot to write when they realized that I liked it”. He rediscovered that obsession with revision when he got to know the American publishing world. “ I had to review everything hundreds of times, I couldn't read the novel one more time. Here I notice everything looser, more natural. It is also different because he has come to Spain to translate. Besides, I'm in my country and I'm more relaxed. There I don't dare to tell the jokes that I tell here”.

Who is Mrs. March

No review of the book has lacked the comparison with the work of Patricia Highsmith or Shirley Jackson, something logical considering that Feito's novel contains mystery, crime and terror. But those who know a little about 'Mrs. Dalloway' by Virginia Woolf will have noticed the similarity. Mrs. March also decides to make a purchase for the party that night herself – olive bread and 'macarons' – in her trusted bakery. This daily action leads to an anxiety attack when the shop assistant comments on her resemblance to the main character in her husband's latest novel, the 'best seller' of the moment.

But that protagonist is not a wealthy New York lady but a repulsive prostitute with whom no one wants to sleep.

“I was watching 'The Hours' and when Meryl Streep

goes to the flower shop and they tell her 'the character is based on you' I thought that's what was going to happen to the woman I had imagined”, declares Feito, who reels off more inspirations. “'The Black Swan' by Darren Aronofsky

for the doubles, perfection and appearances. All the work of Shirley, Patricia and Caroline Blackwood

, who was heiress to the Guinness fortune and wrote some very disturbing but very feminine things at the same time. Also Daphne Du Maurier

for 'Rebecca' and her stories short films and 'American Psycho' by Bret Easton Ellis” . Now he is with the debut of Ira Levin, 'A kiss before dying:' “It's freaking me out. He's a guy obsessed with how he's going to kill his pregnant girlfriend.”

Godmother for the screen

The state of tension in which Mrs. March lives, with her hands always dry and her nails cracked, is made clear from the beginning, but as the pages turn, the anguish and delirium increase. An unsettling –and addictive– story that has caught the attention of Elisabeth Moss

, nothing less. “During the pandemic I was on a Zoom with friends at one in the morning and suddenly I get an email from my agent saying 'guess who wants to buy your book and star in it,'” explains the writer. “ I spoke with her and she told me her vision of what kind of film she had in mind, because she also wants to produce it,

as if I weren't the one who would ask him to please buy me the book”.

Feito will be in charge of writing the script, although they haven't started working together yet. “I have discovered that in Hollywood

everything goes very fast when beginning but then three years go by and they haven't called you until they ask from one day to the next. I spend all day getting into Elisabeth Moss's imdb to see how many projects she has because she never stops. But for mine they still have to close with a studio that will be the one that distributes, like Warner, Universal

or Any of those. And they will want to give their opinion on the script”.

That suddenly a character getting a real face can be a tricky business. In the mind of those who read it, it can be one way or another and not at all resemble that of the actor or actress who will bring it to life in the cinema. But Feito has been lucky. “This is disgusting to say, but when they asked me in editorials, before publishing it, who I imagined, I said Elisabeth Moss. An editor said Cate Blanchett, I guess because of 'Jasmine', and another one replied 'ugh, Elisabeth Moss is in everything'. And look,” she says amused. “If you see her on Zoom she has kind of a halo and amazing complexion, but she's an actress who didn't mind getting ugly. And that is what is needed because Mrs. March is very unpleasant”.

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Meanwhile, he is writing a new book. He comments that it will have some features similar to 'Mrs. March' in terms of satire, humor and darkness, but points out that “I still like I have passed They have given me free rein and I don't know what will come out. No one has read it yet, the first will be my agent and he will be honest. I'll ask you to have mercy.” is also waiting to see how his first novel will be received in Spain.

“I am amazed and overwhelmed, even more here than there. But I have no idea how it's going to turn out.”

He does it from Madrid, the home to which he always returns. “Of all the places I have lived, this is the one I always miss. I love New York and I miss it too because Also, with the pandemic, I haven't been there for years, but my home is Madrid.” Unless, as she says between laughs, she becomes a millionaire with literature and can buy “a house where Carrie Bradshaw lives, some Manolo Blanicks and a yacht.

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