The novel begins in the first decade of the 21st century in Rio de Janeiro, where a former member of the long defunct Brazilian Communist Party --- an old man in his 90s going by the name "Xerxes" --- hires the services of a struggling journalist named Molina to interview him for the purpose of writing his memoirs.
Over several weeks, Molina holds a series of recorded interviews with Xerxes at his house, where he expounds at great length on his experiences in the Communist Party during the 1930s, a time of considerable political flux in Brazil. (As someone who has travelled to Brazil several times over the past 25 years, I found myself more attracted to the author's use of real historical events and personalities --- in particular, Luis Carlos Prestes, onetime leader of a failed "revolt of the lieutenants" in the 1920s against the ruling oligarchic class in Brazil and later one of the key leaders in the Brazilian Communist Party in the following decade, when it sought to seize power from strongman Getulio Vargas, the President of Brazil --- than in the gist of the novel itself, which was focused on Xerxes' obsession for Elza Fernandes, a fellow Communist and young woman he loved who was apparently put to death in 1936 on the orders of the leadership of the Communist Party because she was suspected of being a traitor in the immediate aftermath of the failed 1935 coup attempt.)
"ELZA The Girl" sets out to be both a historical and true crime tale. But its execution failed to fully engage me. As I said before, the inclusion of various bits of Brazilian history I savored. I'm glad I read this novel. But it is not a novel that I would likely re-read anytime soon.