Journalist Montero's important first novel is set in the mid-1970s, a time of immense transformation in Spanish society. The oppressive Fascist state has been dismantled following the death of Franco, and traditional gender roles and stereotypes are giving way. The book follows Ana, a 30-year-old single mother living in Madrid, and a group of career women as they negotiate the uncharted waters of equality. Flashbacks showing what it was like before the transition only serve to heighten the sense that beneath the surface, despite outward changes, much remains the same. Men still act out traditional roles. Women are left confused as to how to behave in the midst of this social flux. Even in translation, Montero comes across as a bellwether. The novel is narrated in the third person. On occasion, however, the author lapses into the first person, which serves as an act of solidarity with her characters. Originally published in Spain in 1979, this work will whet readers' appetite for the translation of her four subsequent novels. A fine introduction orients readers concerning Montero's work. (Dec.)
This work marked Montero's emergence as a voice of the modern Spanish woman when it was first published in Madrid in 1979. It elucidates the post-Franco period as a time of disappointment for middle-class women who expected a tempering of the male-centered Catholic culture perpetuated by the regime. The main characters are professional women in their thirties and forties who are dissatisfied with their male partners. Single parenthood, abortion, lack of career advancement, and the double standard are common concerns that bind them and solidify their friendships. Ironically, they still find themselves attracted to men and succumb to pointless relationships that leave them lonely. Part novel, part journal, the book provides honest insight into the universal struggle of women to gain a rightful place in modern society. Recommended for Spanish literature collections and fiction collections with a focus on women's studies.-- Mary Ellen Beck, Troy P.L., N.Y.