More than just a coming-of-age novel
The scene of Nada is Barcelona and the story begins in autumn 1939, maybe a year or two later. The protagonist is 18-year-old Andrea, an orphan from the province arriving at the Estación de Francia after many hours on the train. It’s midnight
The scene of Nada is Barcelona and the story begins in autumn 1939, maybe a year or two later. The protagonist is 18-year-old Andrea, an orphan from the province arriving at the Estación de Francia after many hours on the train. It’s midnight and on her way to the Calle de Aribau where she is going to stay with the relatives of her dead mother she experiences a first taste of freedom, away from the narrowness of the village, of the convent school and of life with her cousin who took care of her after her father’s death. Andrea is looking forward to the independence which being a student of literature promises, but in her new home she is received by a bizarre assembly of people in a decayed flat crammed with the relics of a prosperous past. Her family draws Andrea into a nightmarish world which is filled with all the big and small tragedies of home life reigned by penury and hunger. As often as possible she flees the oppressive and depressing atmosphere in the Calle de Aribau to roam the city and spend time with her well-to-do friends from university, above all with Ena. Without her friend Andrea sinks even deeper into loneliness and sadness. In the end things take a new turn for Andra.
Nada is a first-person narrative with all its limits and advantages. In some aspects the book reminds of Françoise Sagan's Bonjour Tristesse and J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye. In reality Carmen Laforet’s masterpiece is their neglected precursor, though, since it was written and published almost a decade earlier. However, the historical background of Nada makes it much more than just the story of a girl who is coming of age in a grotesque environment.
I definitely enjoyed the read although in Spanish it was a bit of a struggle as usual. Carmen Laforet's Nada would deserve much more attention from readers worldwide.
To read the complete review please visit to my blog Edith's Miscellany at http://edith-lagraziana.blogspot.com/2013/08/nada-by-carmen-laforet.html.