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In Diamond Square by Mercè Rodoreda

In Diamond Square (1962)

by Mercè Rodoreda

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6242622,152 (3.98)51
  1. 00
    The Whispering City by Sara Moliner (charl08)
    charl08: Powerful evocation of Barcelona's history through fiction.
  2. 00
    As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie Lee (cometahalley)

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» See also 51 mentions

English (12)  Spanish (6)  Catalan (3)  Hebrew (2)  Italian (2)  Dutch (1)  All languages (26)
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
I owe my discovery of this fine novel to my previous reading of The Selected Stories of Mercè Rodoreda which came my way via Open Letter Books as part of their First 25 discount offer. I had never heard of Mercè Rodoreda when I opened up the parcel and began cataloguing the 25 translations at Goodreads, and it was not until I read The Selected Stories for Spanish Lit Month at Winston’s Dad and #WITMonth (i.e. Women in Translation) that I realised what treasure I had, because Open Letter Books had also sent me Death in Spring (which I started reading last night).

But Open Letter had not sent me In Diamond Square, otherwise known in the 1986 translation by David H. Rosenthal as The Time of the Doves, and the recommendation from Grant at 1st Reading was all the persuasion I needed to get a copy of that too. It is very powerful writing.

In the history of modern warfare, civilians have suffered terribly. Civilian deaths of those caught up in the conflict or suffering from malnutrition and disease sometimes outnumber military casualties by the thousands. In Diamond Square begins by telling a love story but when the Spanish Civil War erupts it becomes a chronicle of the impact of war on ordinary people.

Narrated by a shop girl in Barcelona, the story begins when Natalia falls for the charming Joe, and they build a life together. He is more forceful than a modern woman would find acceptable, but Natalia loves him and she acquiesces in his obsessive hobby of pigeon-breeding, even when the pigeon lofts expand from the apartment roof to inside the house.

Joe is a carpenter, but as civil unrest increases, contracts dry up.

And work was going badly. Joe said it was playing hard to get but it would come right in the end, people were agitated, and not thinking about restoring furniture or having new items made. The rich were angry with the Republic.


And there was no work around and we were all very hungry and I saw very little of Joe because he and Ernie were up to something. (p.72)

To help make ends meet, Natalia cleans the house of a wealthy couple whose decrepit house symbolises the decay of the aristocracy in Spain.

To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2017/08/17/in-diamond-square-by-merce-rodoreda-translated-by-peter-bush/ ( )
  anzlitlovers | Aug 16, 2017 |
un bon llibre per conèixer un poc més la vida durant la guerra civil espanyola ( )
  cloentrelibros | Aug 23, 2016 |
This novel is widely considered to be one of the greatest works of Catalan literature, and an evocative portrait of life in Barcelona during and after the Spanish Civil War. It is set almost entirely in the city's Gràcia neighborhood and is narrated by Natalia, a simple and attractive young woman who works in a small shop there. She lives from day to day, with little concern of her future or the larger world outside of Gràcia, as she is largely unaware of the political turmoil and imminent danger facing the citizens of Barcelona and Catalonia as those loyal to the government and nationalists led by Francisco Franco begin to take sides against each other.

Natalia meets Quimet, a spirited young carpenter, on La Plaça del Diamant, who doggedly pursues and ultimately weds her. The marriage is a not completely blissful one for Natalia, as Quimet is a paternalistic, dismissive and unaffectionate husband, although he is apparently loyal to her and loves the two children she gives them. Quimet insists that raising doves will be their ticket out of poverty, and he builds a dovecote on the top of their apartment to the chagrin of Natalia, as the doves' home comes as the expense of her private work space. She tolerates this intrusion with resentment, which is followed by a surprising act of silent protest.

Quimet joins the Nationalists as war breaks out, and Natalia is left to fend for herself and her children. As the stress of poverty and the uncertainty of Quimet's fate haunts her, she realizes that no one will come to her aid in the besieged city where everyone is struggling to find enough food to eat. At her most desperate moment she is rescued by a kindly older man who takes her and her children under his wing. She is driven nearly to madness, but the experience emboldens and matures her, yet it is one that scars and continues to disturb her for the remainder of the story.

The Time of the Doves is largely narrated by Natalia, in a breathless manner of a woman who is overwhelmed by life, yet manages to overcome obstacles and survive tragedy. Hers is a sad and tragic story, but through it Rodoreda permits the reader a look at the lives of ordinary citizens helplessly caught up in political events, war and its aftermath. I found the first half of the book mildly interesting at best, but the second half was a much more compelling read, as Natalia's personal misfortunes threaten her sanity and the lives of her children. I was sorry to see this novel come to an end, and I will likely get to it again soon, as I suspect that it will be considerably more rewarding on a second reading. ( )
2 vote kidzdoc | Jun 2, 2015 |
An interesting read, I was a bit thrown by the translation of the names into English. It is a strange read, the cover makes it it look like a historical romance, but really there is more - or is it less- going on here. The narrator takes us through the time coming up to the Spanish Civil War and its aftermath, it is a tale of survival, of loss, showing the side of the War that is often left out - how those on the home front lived. At times the story flits and flies away, just as her husband's pigeons do, but it is worthy of a read. ( )
  soffitta1 | Dec 20, 2014 |
The Time of the Doves tells about the Spanish Civil War from a working class female point of view using stream of consciousness prose and grippingly vivid storytelling that assaults the senses. It takes place in Barcelona and was written in Catalan. This is maybe the best novel ever, even in translation, like Woolf meets Stein crossed with Graham Greene. Rodoreda seems to carve words as if they are made of physical material to construct a place and time that make you feel you can see, hear and taste the world her characters live. The sadness of history is captured here; you will cry real tears. I've never read anything quite like it. Utterly beautiful and profoundly moving. Life and Death and Love and War. ( )
2 vote tvgrl | Jul 26, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
added by xrm-rvo | editSerra d'Or, Joan Triadú (Jul 1, 1962)

» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rodoreda, Mercèprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Boon, AdriTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bush, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sales, JoanForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
סערי, רמיTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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My dear, these things are life.

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Julia came by the pastry shop just to tell me that, before they raffled off the basket of fruit and cany, they'd raffle some coffeepots.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0915308754, Paperback)

The Time of the Doves, the powerfully written story of a naïve shop-tender during the Spanish Civil War and beyond, is a rare and moving portrait of a simple soul confronting and surviving a convulsive period in history. The book has been widely translated, and was made into a film.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:02 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

With her mercurial husband dead and the Spanish Civil War raging, Natalia struggles to protect her two small children and clings to memories of her brief marriage and its equal portions of joy and misery.

» see all 4 descriptions

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