MY SUMMERS THAT WON’T COME BACK
Her latest work, TÀNDEM, sold in Italy, Slovenia and Germany, was a pleasant surprise for me as a reader. Despite discovering a different María, the literary quality we are used to remains.
This novel, AL LLAC has managed to awaken memories and longings of my own summers. Always with my two siblings, fifteen days at the beach and fifteen days in the mountains with my grandparents. I’m sure I have these idealised memories, but even today when I think about it, my heart is still pounding both with emotion and sadness. Partly because we will never be able to have those summers again, and partly because our children have not been able to experience them. And although they don’t miss them, because theirs were also wonderful, we know that ours were exceptional, and I can undoubtedly say that it was one of the happiest times of my life. The main character of this novel reminds me of myself and my wish to be older, when we should have enjoyed every moment without thinking so much about the future.
The novel is set in the 1960s. Nora, a twelve-year-old girl, has the delightful experience of going to the lake on Sundays, a very beautiful and peaceful place with changing colours. She goes with a group of adults and Quim, a seven-year-old boy. They all have their desires, and she observes them, although she doesn’t always understand them. Even so, because of a conflict between the grown-ups and Quim’s audacity, the last morning at the lake Nora will suddenly wake up from her childhood.
The story is set in Tremp and in the Sant Antoni reservoir, where the author relives her childhood memories. Within this framework, she explores the confrontation of children with adults and adults with each other in an attempt to capture each one’s affections. According to the author, “people are very complex and it is very difficult to be happy”. And as I get older, I realise that she is absolutely right. This feeling is a constant in María Barbal’s characters, who are not only children, but also two couples and a grandmother. In addition, there is a geographical protagonist: the lake, which also has its own story.
A short, intense, and emotional novel about nostalgia, beauty, the passing of time and the meaning of happiness.
A tender book to end the summer, to celebrate it and to remember the essential experiences of life. A little gem, Maria Barbal’s signature.