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In Diamond Square: A Virago Modern Classic (VMC) Hardcover – 7 Mar 2013


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Virago; First Edition edition (7 Mar. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844088952
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844088959
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 2.2 x 23.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 384,053 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

An extremely moving love story, which reveals much about the Spanish Civil War as ordinary, non-political people had to live it. Merce Rodoreda's artistry is of the highest order (Diana Athill)

The most beautiful novel published in Spain since the Civil War (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)

Book Description

Merce Rodoreda's internationally acclaimed classic novel is a moving portrait of a young woman in Barcelona during the tragedy of the Spanish Civil War.

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Susie B TOP 100 REVIEWER on 8 April 2013
Format: Hardcover
First published in 1962, Merce Rodoreda's 'In Diamond Square' tells the story of Natalia, a young and very attractive shop assistant, engaged to Pete and living in Gracia, Barcelona, in the early 1930s. At a party in a Diamond Square, Natalia, wearing a starched white dress and petticoat and "shoes like splashes of milk", is asked to dance by Joe, a good-looking, over-confident young man, who tells her that she will be married to him within a year. A possessive, jealous and manipulative man, Joe nevertheless wins Natalia's heart and the two marry and move into a dilapidated apartment with a roof terrace in a rundown area in the city. And it is in this apartment that Natalia gives birth to her son, Anthony, her daughter, Rita, and where her husband starts breeding pigeons, initially in pigeon lofts on the roof terrace.

As time passes and Joe finds it difficult to make his carpentry business viable, Natalia has to find work as a cleaner in order to make ends meets, which means that she becomes continually worried and totally exhausted. And poor Natalia's life is made all the more difficult by Joe, who makes her feel inadequate by constantly referring to a previous love of his, and he also causes more problems for Natalia by filling their apartment with increasing numbers of various breeds of pigeons, driving her to desperate measures in order to reclaim her home. When the Spanish Civil War breaks out, and Joe leaves his family to fight the fascists, Natalia is left to cope with extreme deprivations and, when she feels she can cope no longer, she is forced into making heartbreaking decisions that are deeply affecting to read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Phil O'Sofa on 19 Jan. 2015
Format: Paperback
This is a remarkable novel, but it isn't immediately obvious. At first I was thinking, well, if this is `the most beautiful novel published in Spain since the civil war', as the quote from Gabriel Garcia Marquez says on the cover, it doesn't say much for modern Spanish literature. But as I read further, I began to see his point.

In fact, it isn't until about halfway through the book that it really gets to the point of the story, a failing that these days would consign it to the obscurity of the slush pile. This is because the author tells her tale of courtship, marriage and life as a working mother in 1930s Barcelona as a straightforward account of ordinary hardship, bringing up two kids and coping with her husband Joe's unpleasantness and his obsession with keeping pigeons, and doesn't even mention the civil war till it begins to affect her personally, when Joe and his mates join the local militia and go off to fight.

So the first half of the book is not very interesting and even at times quite trivial, almost like early chicklit, told in the first person and mildly humorous, with a slightly annoying habit of starting every second sentence with the word 'And'. But it's an easy read and well worth sticking with, because when we get to the hardship brought about by the civil war, we've become involved with the characters and the whole thing feels totally convincing, and at this point it becomes really interesting and soon after this, about three-quarters of the way through, it hits a high point and becomes really very moving, and at last I understand what Marquez meant.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 10 Mar. 2013
Format: Hardcover
Now this is lovely. A beautifully told love story, that grows into the story of a family, and then into something bigger and deeper. A compelling tale of life before, during and after the Spanish civil war.

And it was a bestseller in the 1960s, it was translated into more than twenty, it became a beloved classic, and now that I have read every word I can easily understand why.

Natalia was a shop-girl, with a fiancé, living in the working class quarter of Barcelona in the early 1930s. Her life changed at a fiesta in Diamond Square. She met Joe, she danced with him, and he told her that she would be his wife within the year.

He was right. They did marry, and they had two children: a son and daughter.

I warmed to Natalia from the start. Her voice was so warm and so honest, and I could hear her voice. It was clearly so important to her to tell her story, to make everything clear, and it felt as if she were speaking to a friend.

Natalia realised that life would have ups and downs, good times and bad times, and that she had to accept that and focus on what was important. Her home and her family. And she did make the best of things, though she was rather inclined to dwell on things, suffering in silence. I wished she had spoken up for herself a little more because there were times when her husband needed telling!

Joe bred pigeons. It started with just one, an injured bird he found in the street, and that one bird led to many, many more. Joe and the children loved the birds, but Natalia hated them. The noise, the smell, the feed, the dirt, every time she had to go into the loft space.
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