Translated from the Catalan by Laura McGloughlin and Paul Mitchell
I loved Beside the Sea, so wondered how the second book from the newly formed Peirene Press could ever live up to its emotional older sister. The two books were very different, but I’m afraid that I didn’t think Stone in a Landslide was in the same league as Beside the Sea.
Stone in a Landslide is set in a small village in the Pyrenees and follows 13-year-old Conxa as she leaves her parental home to live with her childless aunt. The book tells the story of her entire life, showing us how she finds a husband, cares for her children and copes with with the impact of the Spanish Civil War.
The book was very easy to read, but the simplicity of the prose left me cold. The 126 pages flew by, but I felt that it tried to cover too much in a short time and so I ended the book desperate to know more about her life. It is the same feeling I often get when reading a short story – I want more detail, more emotion and more complexity.
The gentle, simple narrative will appeal to a lot of people, but I felt that much of the book, especially scenes of the Spanish Civil War, were rushed. Coxna led such an interesting life, but I never felt as though I knew her or what she was thinking. Descriptions of her surroundings seemed to be give more prominence than her emotions:
Overall it was an interesting glimpse into life in the Pyrenees, but I felt it lacked depth.
Recommended to those who enjoy gentle short stories.
Opinions are divided on this one:
…each individual sentence is very plain, but somehow they combine to make a voice that is startlingly present and human. Stuck in a Book
I read the entire book feeling like an observer, and not a participant. Reading Matters
Stone in a Landslide is beautiful, simple and stark. Yet it is filled with warmth, the smell of grass on the mountains and the sunshine of a late afternoon. Chasing Bawa