The second novel from well-known Spanish journalist Montero to be translated in the Nebraska European Women Writers Series. Like last year's Absent Love, it deals with the joys and hardships of women's liberation in the post-Franco years. The year is 2010. Lucia Ramos, a one-time film director, is dying of cancer. She keeps two diaries, one chronicling the last months of her life, the other Easter Week 1980, when her first and only film opened. In that crucial week of her life, she was abandoned by one of her two lovers and, deciding to give up her difficult, independent lifestyle, moved in with the other. The tone in both diaries is disappointingly similar--melancholy, reflective. True, it's in part because the world in 2010, as rather vague allusions suggest, has grown more regimented and hierarchical. Lucia's generation, it's implied, was the last to suffer through painful social experiments. But the pungency, anger, and flashes of black humor that peppered Absent Love are largely missing here. There is, however, an appealing asperity to Montero's outlook on life, a rejection of the world connected in some unspoken way with the Catholic background. It turns out the heroine's movie had the same title and plot as Montero's first novel, a runaway bestseller. The double diary, the imagined terminal illness--this is how Montero distances herself from her own celebrity and success. The novel's hospital nurses--Maria de Dia, Maria de Noche--become almost allegorical figures, again with religious overtones, of life and death. And the final chapter, set on Easter Sunday, poetically fuses both diaries in a time outside of time where life and death, joy and sorrow commingle. Rare flashes of humor and poetry against a generally flat background. Could the translation be partly to blame?