REQUIEM FOR A SPANISH VILLAGE by Barbara Norman

REQUIEM FOR A SPANISH VILLAGE

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

The author and her husband, a concert violinist, lived for ten years in a ""cool, white mud and stone house"" in a tiny agricultural village along the northeast coast of Spain, where she witnessed the gradual obliteration of ""the slow bucolic rhythm that converts time into the one unending day with no beginning and no close."" The author was immediately accepted with warmth, and here she explores the temper of peasant sentiment and modus vivendi through her own empathic pleasure in place and neighbors. In many conversations with elders she reconstructs a past when one knew it was time to leave for the fields by the position of the stars; the Revolution which destroyed or disrupted individual lives, but ultimately changed nothing; and ties to the land which reached beyond a grandparent's memory. She reports on a hot, sticky, lush grape harvest which involved the whole community, a wedding trip of adventurous hilarity, a death, the portentous departure of a bright young girl to Barcelona. She follows the fortunes of a middle-aged ""model farmer"" soon to be driven from his ancestors' acres by a land developer. As in other rural areas, the young are leaving for wages, Tvs and refrigerators: ""We're all isolated now, each man in his house with his ambitions and himself."" When the author left, in 1971, the village was half in ruins while white bungalows crept up the hills among neglected olive trees and arbors. An old story and, despite Mrs. Norman's very urban nostalgia for the pastoral life which she found congenial, her reportage is subdued and gently illuminating. Another fine village profile, without the brilliance of Cornelisen's Torregreca (1969) but as involving as Bailey's In the Village (1971).

Pub Date: Nov. 15th, 1972
Publisher: Stein & Day