In this first book to be published in English, Catalan writer Rodoreda has artfully reconstructed the experiences of a Barcelona shop girl throughout her sharp joys, dogged toil, and nightmare hardship before, during, and after the Spanish Civil War. Her name is Natalia, but at the dance in the square, carpenter Quimet--an overpowering man with the ""monkey eyes""--insists that she's his ""Colometa"" (little dove) and that they will marry. And before long capricious and obsessive Quimet is indeed overseeing captured-bird Colometa: he must have a perfect, spotless apartment; he treats his bride to little cruelties and offhand generosities; two children are born. But there are rumbles of Revolution, and when Quimet's business declines, Colometa takes on hard domestic work for rich people. . . while real doves are collecting in the apartment (Quimet's latest enthusiasm). She's harried by grinding labor, by fear for her often-unattended children, by Quimet's frequent absences, by diminishing funds. And after Colometa sabotages the dove-breeding, Quimet and his friends (once rowdy, now sobered) disappear forever like another flock that never existed, leaving Colometa and her children to poverty and starvation. Colometa plans suicide, dreams of her children killed like doves in their shells by furious hands--but the family will be rescued in time by a kind elderly grocer, who marries Colometa and raises her children to be settled, undistinguished adults. Finally, however, before accepting good fortune and love, Colometa must let out the scream she's been nursing, let go of her aborted youth. An appealing and well-crafted tale of a young woman who's victimized not only by war and cruel men but by her own unexamined sensibility; moving work from a gifted, if rather special, writer.