4 January 2011

Comfortably simple - Cielo Nocturno by Soledad Puertolas

Cielo Nocturno
by Soledad Puertolas

A very simple tale of a young girl growing up during the 1950s - 70s in Spain - an honest and uncomplicated view of the world around her. A closed world that reflects very well mid 20th century Spanish society. The narrator remains anonymous, the city where the novel is set, nameless and yet the novel feels familiar and intimate throughout.

Told in the first person, the characters in the young girl´s life weave in and out of her story - her traditional father, her left-wing uncle, a mysterious and well-known guitar teacher, her rowdy cousins, a¨"semi-nun" teacher (semi monja), a couple of school friends who grow up to be nothing like their younger versions and of course, a left-wing heartbreaker who turns her world around.

I became absorbed by Soledad Puertolas´ book effortlessly - by her simple yet elegant prose and unassuming characters. I was reading the book in a cafĂ© while waiting for a friend of mine to arrive. When he got there he asked: "What is the book about?" I replied a little surprised by my own answer: "It´s about ... nothing, about this girl and her life as she grows up..."

And yet the narrator´s persona, the river, the city, her parent´s house, her own room, the semi-nun, the uncle, the cousins, the lover... they´ve all stayed with me and will do so for a while.

(With apologies to this blog´s readers who don´t speak Spanish, as, as far as I know, this book has not been translated into English. If anyone knows whether any of Soledad Puertolas´ works have been translated into English and can be purchased online, please post details here - thanks!)

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