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Andrea, an impoverished eighteen-year-old girl travels to Barcelona to pursue her ambition of studying literature at the university. She arrives at night, by train, in a city that immediately imposes its bleak, post-Civil War atmosphere on her impressionable mind. She makes her way to the home of relatives, a house she has not visited since her childhood, and before long we realise that she has entered a very strange household indeed. Tension between her grandmother, her two eccentric uncles, an aunt, and the housekeeper is present from the moment of her arrival and it grows in claustrophobic intensity as this unforgettable story develops. Nada describes a young woman s emergence from a life of cloying despair into the fresh new dawn of post-war enlightenment and promise. The spirit of war-torn, brutalised Barcelona very different from the confident, prosperous Catalan capital we know today hovers over this beautifully written and minutely observed novel.
Born in Barcelona in 1921, Carmen Laforet spent her childhood in Las Palmas until, like the heroine of her novel, she returned to her native city to attend university. Her first novel Nada (Nothing) was published in 1945. She died in Madrid in 2004.