Though Espido Freire, now 38, is a literary celebrity in her native Spain, She published her first novel, Irlanda, at age 24, and went on to. The latest addition to my website is Espido Freire’s Irlanda (Irlanda). Freire’s first novel is the only one of her novels to be translated into English. I love Espido Freire’s Irlanda and it has always annoyed me that it isn’t more widely known. At least, now people can read it in English. Yay!.
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At the start of the novel, Sagrario dies after a long illness. She is the middle irlaanda three young sisters. Natalia is the eldest and it is she that narrates this novel. Her youngest sister is normally just referred to as the little one. Indeed, we never learn her name. Despite the fact that Espdo had been ill for some time, it is still a devastating shock for all four of them, the two girls and their parents. Their mother cannot get over it.
Espido Freire – Wikipedia
Natalia has not seen Roberto and Irlanda for three years and is very impressed when she arrives at their lovely house in the country. Initially, espudo seems, Natalia has happy memories of staying there but we gradually learn that she was not always happy.
This time she is enchanted by Irlanda. Irlanda is only three months older than her but seems much more nature. In particular, she is much more attractive, elegant and self-assured. The children stay in a separate house on the property, with the parents having some but not too much contact. The school the girls go to is clearly for well-off children.
Irlanda appears to be popular at the school and her friends and the girls at the school seem to have the preoccupation of many girls of that age, namely clothes and boys. The three girls share a room. There is no room for Irlanda, who has a separate room, which somewhat disappoints her.
Irlanda, we soon discover, is something of a loner. At home, she had spent her time with Sagrario at school and when Sagrario no longer went to school, she looked after her younger sister. She seems to have had no friends other than her sisters.
It soon becomes apparent that Natalia is not going to fit in here. The other three girls are friends and have very different ways from Natalia, who has had no contact with boys, limited interest in fashion and, indeed, limited social contact with anyone outside her family. Natalia has a herbarium, a irlabda of pressed plants. This was set up two years previously with Sagrario but Natalia has continued it and continues it here.
Irlanda will later mock her for only being interested in stupid plants. But Natalia, unknown to the others, has two other interests. Firstly, for her, Sagrario remains her best friend and is very much alive. She talks to her all the time and receives a response. Indeed, when she is not talking to Sagrario, Sagrario asks her if she is asleep. Secondly, Natalia lives in a fairy-tale world.
Espido Freire’s Irlanda in English, Finally!
She sees everything in fairy-tale terms. For example, when Irlanda tries to teach her chess, she cannot grasp the moves and the strategy of the game but rather sees the whole board as a fairy tale involving queens and kings and knights.
She often goes off on her own and imagines fairy-tale stories and settings, magical places and evil doings. The three girls do make something of an effort to bring Natalia into their group and it works partially for a while but then the girls have to leave ewpido back to their families.
More and more Natalia remains on her own, plotting her revenge against Irlanda for taking Gabriel and thinking of herself as the princess in the tower.
Freire tells an excellent story of a girl who cannot fit in. The personal tragedy of her sister, the fact that they are the poor relations and her lack of friends and social skills all drive Natalia into her fairy-tale world, a world inhabited by her dead sister but also by princesses and dragons, mysterious spirits and knights in armour.
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