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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poetic Rain, 1 April 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Yellow Rain (Paperback)
Llamazares' 'Yellow rain' is possibly the most beautiful novel I've ever read. It reads like poetry, and the author's detailed descriptions give the reader a fantastic insight into the world of Andres, the protagonist.
This book relates the memories of this old man, left entirely on his own in a dying village in the Spanish Pyrenees. For those of you who have been fortunate enough to visit some of the 'ghost towns' in Aragon, as I have, this novel really will hit home.
With Llamazares' breathtaking imagery, and the sheer beauty of 'Yellow Rain', you won't be able to put it down. I urge you to buy this book, to learn more of the sad, but true, history of the thousands of rural towns in Spain that have disappeared into oblivion.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A modern classic, an elegy for a vanishing way of life., 31 Jan 2004
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Yellow Rain (Hardcover)
This powerful and richly atmospheric novel, a classic in Spain for the past fifteen years but only now translated into English, captures the love of an old man for his land and for the village in which he and his ancestors were born. It is also a study of the inexorable effects of time and the pressures it exerts on isolated communities and the human inhabitants who lack direct connection with a wider world. Told from the point of view of the elderly Andres, the last remaining inhabitant of a crumbling village in the Pyrenees, the novel details his physical and emotional deterioration as he observes the parallel collapse of the town, "whole buildings kneeling like cattle," the village itself a mangled and sad "unburied corpse."
As the novel opens, Andres tells us that this is the last day of his life, describing what the men approaching from the nearest town will discover when they come to Ainielle for the first time in ten years. Gradually, Andres reveals the history of the village and of his own family, capturing his own desolation and possible madness. His confrontations with ghosts--of his mother, his three children, and wife Sabina--slowly reveal his life as a family man, along with his disappointments, his sometimes self-defeating behavior, and his never-ending desire to keep alive the village in which his ancestors worked the land. He knows that when he dies, any remaining vestiges of the village and its way of life will disappear from the earth.
Andres's memories and his confrontations with ghosts add color, variety, and a sense of drama to what would otherwise be an interior monologue, showing the conflict between Andres and the forces of change. His preparations for his own death and description of the images the approaching visitors will see on their arrival constitute the quiet climax. The imagery is breath-taking. Realistic and grounded in the stark reality of farm life in a poor, nearly dead village, the nature imagery reveals parallels between the inner forces which have driven Andres to become the last human in Ainielle, and the passage of time and the seasons--deep snow, the rushing water of spring, and the falling poplar leaves, which he sees as "the yellow rain." A haunting memorial to those people who are incapable of accepting the changes of time, the novel forces the reader to consider those values and aspects of the past which are lost from our heritage when the memories and experiences of the elderly are not preserved, when old villages disappear, and when future generations do not care. Mary Whipple
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, but canalised, 9 Jan 2009
This review is from: The Yellow Rain (Paperback)
The Yellow Rain by Julio Llamazares is thankfully a short novel that describes life, or rather the end of it, in a Pyrenean village called Ainielle. Andres, the book's narrator, has lived there all his life in a house he calls Casa Sosas. By the time we meet him, he is reaching the end of his life, as is his village, since it is now almost deserted, abandoned by almost all who used to make a life of sorts there. Its economy has dwindled, its activity ceased. Andres remains there with his memories and shrinking present.

Andres relates the salient events in his life story through a series of reflections. These take the form of short monologues that allow neither dialogue nor, even reported, any words or reflections of others. Thus everything is filtered through the narrator's highly partial, inwardly focused perspective. And through that one learns of suicide, betrayal, rejection, life, death, birth, marriage, estrangement and suffering, and all of these tinged with regret, borne of a feeling of deterioration and abandonment. The book's theme is stated and restated, but it always stays the right side of repetition for repetition's sake. What emerges is an impressionistic vision of unidirectional change for the worse.

Thus the novel does not really have a plot, apart from Andres's conscious preparation for his own inevitable end. Throughout the tone is desolate, with an occasional lightening as high as despair. But having said that, it is not a criticism of the book, since it achieves what is sets out to achieve in describing Ainielle's and, within it, Andres's own descent into non-being.

Andres goes as far as digging his own grave to ensure an interment alongside his memories, most of which seem to be closely entwined with decay and tragedy. He describes the circumstances that led others to take their own lives, to suffer at the hand of an unforgiving environment. One feels that there were always options, but that the identity people shared in their isolated existence was too strong to reject.

The Yellow Rain is not a novel to pick up in search of light relief, but it is an engaging, well written and, in its English version, an especially well translated book. Its point may be quite one dimensional, but this transformation is vividly, sensitively and convincingly portrayed. The book is also succinct, short enough to avoid wallowing in its own slough of despond. Ainielle is now a ghost town, but still one worthy of exploration.
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The Yellow Rain
The Yellow Rain by Margaret Jull Costa (Paperback - 5 Aug 2004)
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