SCHOOL OF THE SUN by Ana Maria Matute


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The treacherous shoals of adolescence wreak their havoc in this turbid to urbulent tale of the soul's loss of innocence. On an island off the Spanish mainland where the Civil War's backlash is felt through the terrorist activities of the Loyalist Taronjis, Matia finds herself in her grandmother's domain. Her mother is dead, her father disgraced by his sympathies. Under the civil menace, Matia and her cousin Borja live their secret lives, boating, fighting in their gangs, sharing the secret of Borja's thefts, probing the ways of men and women. Then Matia finds Manuel, who has returned from the monastery to care for his mother, brothers and sisters after the terrorists murder his supposed father. To Matia, Manuel confides that her fabled, distant cousin Jorge of Son Mayor is his father. The children besiege Jorge in his rose garden, and in an afternoon of wine and roses his magic reaches Matia. Borja, jealous for both, deals a final, deceitful hand, pointing the finger of guilt over the thievery at Manuel, whom Matia, intimidated by Borja, fails to defend. There is a sense of fever in this purposefully opaque rondelet with its perhaps political overtones, which most American readers will find too far a remove for their easy penetration, or participation.

Publisher: Pantheon