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The Time of the Doves

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  5,799 ratings  ·  481 reviews
Barcelona, early 1930s: Natalia, a pretty shop-girl from the working-class quarter of Gracia, is hesitant when a stranger asks her to dance at the fiesta in Diamond Square. But Joe is charming and forceful, and she takes his hand. They marry and soon have two children; for Natalia it is an awakening, both good and bad. When Joe decides to breed pigeons, the birds delight h ...more
Paperback, 201 pages
Published October 1st 1986 by Graywolf Press (first published 1962)
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Average rating 3.88  · 
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Jim Fonseca
Feb 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: catalan-authors
A novel set in Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War and translated from the Catalan. Originally published in 1962, it is and it isn’t “another Spanish Civil War novel.” There is no fighting or scenes from the front. We only hear of the war from the perspective of a woman whose husband is fighting with the Republicans while she slaves at home and as a maid and cleaning lady trying to feed herself and her two children. So we hear of the war only from neighborhood women, talk in the streets, the ...more
Jeff Jackson
Jan 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-club-2
There's a reason why Gabriel Garcia Marquez learned Catalan just read to this novel. He called it "the most beautiful novel published in Spain since the Civil War."

Great translation by poet David Rosenthal that captures the gorgeously off-handed rhythms and glowing repetitions of Rodereda's prose. Avoid the newer version called "In Diamond Plaza."
I'm writing this on the back of my doctor's note because it's the only paper I have with me at the coffee shop and a bad bout of illness has me out of sickness-induced superstition loathe to leave this composing till I go home. Yes, I know, not the best place/activity for an invalid, but I (not contagious, mind you) already had one and one too many of those days two yesters ago where no writing and a mere twelve pages of reading left me with the feeling of a small bone rotting away from lack of ...more
Aug 08, 2017 added it
Shelves: catalan

Mercè Rodoreda i Gurguí (1908-1983)

We went up a narrow stone staircase with very high steps and a ceiling over it and walls on each side and came out in a yard full of boys. Their heads were all shaved and covered with lumps and their faces were nothing but eyes.

One of the unfortunate many to have been born in Europe during the first third of the 20th century, the Catalonian Mercè Rodoreda started publishing early, but the Spanish Civil War intervened and when it ended in 1939 Rodoreda - a
3.5 stars

Lacking a mother to advise her, Natalia, whose ideas of romance and beauty seem to be symbolised by the colour white, which she loves to wear, is picked up by a douchecanoe so selfish and arrogant he takes her name from her and proceeds to arrange her life and possessions at his service. Eventually he fills their home with doves, another white creature coerced violently into confinement. Natalia is living in hell, but it seems there is a hell below this one because along comes the civil
Nov 12, 2015 rated it liked it
You should never ignore the signs. In a relationship, I mean. It is easy to tell yourself that you are overreacting, or imagining things, that your doubts are unreasonable or that what you see or feel is insignificant relative to the positives, but you ought to trust your instincts [or your counter-instincts, if your instincts are telling you that things will work out ok with someone who is giving you the impression of being a douche]. The reality is that, contrary to what we are repeatedly told ...more

Ah, this was a beautiful book. It is tragic and sad so how did she make it so beautiful? The author, a Catalonian woman who came of age during the Spanish Civil War, saw her early novels burned by the authorities of the time as she became a refugee in France and did not write again for eight years. The Time of the Doves was her first novel after that hiatus.

Though I have not ever had to live where a war was being fought, this novel was personal to me for other reasons. I was raised by parents wh
Mar 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
This is a really good mix of

1) stylistically lithe prose, spontaneously beautiful and quirky, stream-of-consciousness without the cerebral aspect that turn some off to it (not that I mind that but...) and

2) intensely desperately human experience. A woman looks back on her life, as it has passed through the Spanish Civil War. Sounds bleak but an entire life, with everything in crisp detail, fits in.

Quite simply lovely and stunning, and every time i find a copy I buy it so I can give it away to an
Rodoreda reveals the religion of endurance through the eyes of a Catalan woman whose life and land are beset by war and famine and misogyny. Through little domestic victories and defeats, Natalia sees the light and shadows of marriage; children; cleaning; working; cooking. She observes the natural world closely but also has mystical visions of swirling colors, sounds, and smells. She meets Joe, her first husband, at a festival in Barcelona's Diamond Square (thus the title). Joe renames Natalia, ...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
This is not an autobiographical novel, but the whole of it seems to come from the author's experience. There is a very good Translator's Note prefacing this edition, written in 1980. He gives a brief historical background, and I quote just two sentences.
Catalan is a language spoken by approximately seven million people ... Catalans were on the losing side in the Spanish Civil War, and immediately afterwards were forbidden to speak their language outside the home.
This is a relatively short novel
Feb 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: for-school
I'm a little speechless, a little breathless. The Time of the Doves is one of the most beautiful things I've encountered in a long time. I'm overwhelmed; I need a moment. I don't know. Read this book. ...more
Mar 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Now this is lovely. A beautifully told love story, that grows into the story of a family, and then into something bigger and deeper. A compelling tale of life before, during and after the Spanish civil war.

And it was a bestseller in the 1960s, it was translated into more than twenty, it became a beloved classic, and now that I have read every word I can easily understand why.

Natalia was a shop-girl, with a fiancé, living in the working class quarter of Barcelona in the early 1930s. Her life chan
Inderjit Sanghera
Sep 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
It would be misleading-and slightly disingenuous-no label the narrator as “simplistic”; the word has such negative connotations and does not reflect the complexity of Natalia’s journey, through a life of love, war, death and loss; emotional complexity should not wholly be defined powers of articulation, but by the development of a character’s inner life and Natalia, who does the best with the hand dealt with her by life, is able to stubbornly over-come all of the hard-ships, from abject poverty ...more
Mar 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is the most unusual and powerful book I've read in a long time. Rodereda creates the character of Natalia in a quirky stream of consciousness voice. The voice is painfully naive to begin with and then matures over the course of the book as Natalia experiences the Spanish Civil War. This book has an early feminist feeling that reminds me of Jean Rhys's work. Rodereda was writing in Catalan, a language that was forbidden in Spain at the time. From a position of exile in France, her descriptio ...more
Feb 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
I read this book for the Spotlight Series (which puts the spotlight on small press publishers by having bloggers read and review a book by a small press that they have chosen to feature for that month. The current spotlight is on Graywolf Press). I will post this review on my blog on July 31, 2010:
"And as he was talking he'd run his fingernail along the crack in the table and dig out breadcrumbs that had gotten stuck there, and it seemed strange to me that he'd do something I did sometimes but t
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was ok
Perhaps I wasn't in the mood for this type of historical fiction; perhaps it had to do with the translation.

(view spoiler)

Should I attempt to do a re-read, I would have to read it in Catalan, at the very least Spanish.

Jan 07, 2018 marked it as i-get-the-picture
Shelves: novels-spanish
Quite good, probably. But it didn’t grab me. Too “feminine”, perhaps, for my reading tastes...?
This is an incredibly depressing book. It's just relentless misery, all the time. From the very beginning, our narrator's life is miserable, and as time progresses things get worse and worse, until towards the end she finally gets a slight reprieve.

So I didn't find this book very satisfying. I read it over three reading sessions, and it seemed that the novel changed a lot between each of those sessions (even though the points where I stopped were not-particularly-remarkable chapter breaks).

For t
Jun 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
I must say that at the beginning I was a little bit baffled with this book. I mean when G.G. Márquez says how I’m holding "The most beautiful novel published in Spain since the Civil War." I expected I’d be blown away from the page 1. I expected novel profound as an ocean and equally demanding to sail thru... so I was floating page after page after page waiting for a storm and in my expectations ignoring the landscape that has been enfolding before me... until I finally notice that because of th ...more
Sorayya Khan
Aug 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a fantastic book and it makes me want to learn Catalan so that I can read it in the original. It's written beautifully, like a mesmerizing piece of music that gathers quietly and in stitches, and then explodes in beauty and love. The prose is deceptively simple, but the story is complex and layered and full of an astonishing array of feeling. In simple terms, it is a story of a woman during the Spanish Civil War and after, but in reality it is a story of survival and the discovery of mea ...more
Feb 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"[I] read [The Time of the Doves] cover to cover all in one afternoon. When I was finished, I felt as foolish as Balboa discovering the powerful Pacific." --Sandra Cisneros

In Sandra Cisneros' recent memoir, "A House of My Own: Stories from My Life," Cisneros speaks of an ebullient admiration for the writing of the Catalan writer Mercè Rodoreda. Cisneros is hardly alone in her respect for Rodoreda-- Gabriel García Márquez has also modestly described "The Time of the Doves" (La plaça del Diamant)
Jul 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2013
As I was reading this I had extreme deja vu. After a few pages I realized I read it before. I don't remember when or where and couldn't remember anything about the book. But as I read, I realized that I only needed to speed read, blaze my way through a tumble of words, and whole scenes, characters, events, and language would flower and kaleidoscope in front of me, and my mind would fill in the events ready to be read a few pages in advance.

I remembered how the beady eyed creep called our heroine
Aug 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
I read this book as the beginning of my immersion into the Catalan culture. It certainly gave me some background on that but the story itself was lacking. Sometimes how the sentences with it's imagery would sometimes drag on forever and loose me but at the same time it was beautiful, how poetic it was. I really didn't like the main character (Natalia/Colometa) too much as I believe throughout the book she stayed exactly the same: an innocent girl with little knowledge of the world around her. I ...more
Jul 03, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2014, in-en
The story is beautiful in its simplicity, count me in every time there's a stream of consciousness narration. Totally different from Death in Spring (the other one by R. I read not long ago) not in a good or bad way, just different, which tells a lot about Rodoreda's versatility as a writer. I wonder how much more I would have liked it had I been able to enjoy a proper translation.
Do read it, by all means, but stay away from English translations (this one in particular!)
Nov 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I received this book as a gift from a friend who wants to go to Barcelona. I'd never heard of Rodoreda, which is a pity, as I loved the lyricism of the novel, and I was deeply moved by it. ...more
Laurie Bridges
Nov 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I read this after it was recommended by several librarians in Barcelona as a “classic” Catalan book.
Jul 17, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Nope.. just nope… I don’t know in what universe is this considered an epic love story as I don’t think being in unhealthy and abusive relationship equals love but ok, thankfully, I’m done with it.
Besides that, I wasn’t a huge fan of the writing. It was just too descriptive, the author rarely used direct speech and even though I like trying new formats this whole book just rubbed me the wrong way and I couldn’t enjoy anything (especially the fact it nicely depicts the life of ordinary people dur
Judith Marco Iscla
This book is considered one of the most important books about the Spanish Civil War, and it has been translated to many different languages. I personally consider it a masterpiece, and one of my top favorite books of all time.

The reason why it ranks so high on my favorites list is because it describes the war from a very intimate and personal point of view: a woman and her children struggling to survive. This makes it a very heartbreaking and raw story.

I read the original version, so I'm not su
Jan 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.75! I really liked but somehow I just couldn’t love it. I don’t how exactly why, maybe later I will find out. Thinking if I should just lower it down to a 3.5 and put a 3 star rating here...
May 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I could tell straight away that I was going to enjoy this. The style has touches of stream of consciousness, and as the story is told in present tense it makes it all seem very immediate. Although I had issues with the main character's decisions early on I had to keep reminding myself that she would have found it difficult in early 1930's Spain to go against expectations. The Civil War is again seen through her eyes and experiences, and although she is never caught up in the violence, the effect ...more
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500 Great Books B...: The Time of the Doves - Mercè Rodoreda 7 60 Jul 16, 2017 09:27AM  

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Mercè Rodoreda i Gurguí was a Catalan novelist.

She is considered by many to be the most important Catalan novelist of the postwar period. Her novel "La plaça del diamant" ('The diamond square', translated as 'The Time of the Doves', 1962) has become the most acclaimed Catalan novel of all time and since the year it was published for the first time, it has been translated into over 20 languages. It

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