I was intrigued that a woman's life story from childhood to old age could unfold in just 126 pages without seeming superficial and trivial. Conxa is a Catalan brought up in a farming community. She has never seen a city, or the sea. Her story is told in the simple language of a woman of her background and education, and this first translation into English beautifully captures the richness yet simplicity of her experience. She is ill at ease with the politics that will eventually engulf her husband and change her life for ever: `When we talked about such matters the same thing always happened to me. A thick fog came over my brain and from there it passed to my heart. It left me frozen and in the dark.'
Conxa tells her story in a series of time lapses between detailed vignettes that make her into someone you know rather than a woman you just happen to be reading about. She is born before the Spanish Civil War and lives through its outrages to end her days in unfamiliar surroundings far from home. She is the fifth of six children, a lot of mouths to feed and `not much land'. `We three youngest were told a hundred times that we were more of a burden than a blessing.' So Conxa is sent to live with her childless aunt Tia, and her uncle, `who owned land, at least half a dozen cows, poultry and rabbits, as well as a vegetable garden.' Her original family slowly recedes from her thoughts as she grows to love and respect her aunt, and meets and falls in love with the man she will marry.
It's beautiful, but it left me feeling somehow dissatisfied, wanting more. Although I knew it must be so, for me it was a mere taster rather than a meal. I would like to have known more about how Conxa felt and what happened between the snapshots she reveals. That is why I have given the book four stars instead of five, but it does not detract from my delight in reading it or in my readiness to recommend it to others.