Stone in a landslide by Maria Barbal

This is Peirene no 2 and considered a catalan classic ,Maria Barbal is a teacher at secondary school ,she grew up in the Pallars region of spain stones in a landslide was her debut novel and the first to be translated into english by Laura McGloughlin and Paul Mitchell .She has since published numerous novel and plays,she is a member of the catalan writer association .

The book centers on the life of Conxa ,she live in the Pyrenees in a small village and  the book starts as she is on a journey from her village to another to work for an aunt .Her amazement is a the differences for her home village to this new village even thou the distance is very short .

They liked everything ; the chorizo and the black pudding ,the cuts of ham .They liked the bacon .Its much tastier than the stuff down their ,they would say .I enjoyed seeing how they kept helping themselves to more and the way they used there knives .

early on in new village .

Now Conxa live is hard and not much hope but then suddenly she has a glimmer a young Beau appears in the shape of Jaume a nice young man ,but this is the 30’s in spain and wart is looming even thou where Conxa lives it seems very distant Jaume thou decides to fight against Franco and goes to war thus changing Conxa’s life for ever .

Jaume wasn’t around much those days .He had been made a justice of the peace and said that now was the time to bring water to Sarri de Dalt .He had joined the republican left ,which was the party of the Gerneralitat Government .he had explained all this to me .

The war is looming .

The book  sums up a hard life but without ever drifting in to misery ,Conxa is a survivor and just gets on with it .The portrait of village life is great .It remind me of the stories I heard from people when I worked in a day centre in rural Northumberland ,the same tales of differences between villages ,tough living people the same as Conxa’s ,the scenery of pallers area is baron and tough working land and the village life revolves around the seasons ,the place is caught out of time from the modern world ,until the arrival of the war which at first seems very distant but in the ends has a larger impact on people’s lives .The book is a real page turn and wonderfully translated ,this is a prefect rainy afternoon book or one for those long summer train rides .

WINSTONS SCORE –

Spanish mountain goat seems to perfectly sum up Conxa hardy ,stoic , a born survivor

July 2010
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