2015: The Year of Reading Women discussion

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R's > The Time of the Doves by Mercè Rodoreda

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message 1: by Kris (new)

Kris (krisrabberman) This thread is for a group read of The Time of the Doves by Mercè Rodoreda, scheduled for May 2015. We will post more information, including a schedule, later in this thread.


message 2: by Zanna (new)

Zanna (zannastar) | 337 comments I have obtained the book and am looking forward to joining the read = )


message 3: by Bloodorange (last edited Apr 27, 2015 01:48PM) (new)

Bloodorange (pani_od_angielskiego) | 618 comments Hi - I just wanted to let you know that because of some last-minute family arrangements I'll be here to join the conversation on Monday, 4 May:)


message 4: by Zanna (new)

Zanna (zannastar) | 337 comments I will start on 4th May or thereabouts in that case - I will read A Ripple from the Storm first


message 5: by Bloodorange (new)

Bloodorange (pani_od_angielskiego) | 618 comments Regarding the schedule Kris mentioned - how do you feel about discussing the first 1/4 of a book next week - chapters 1 to 8?


Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 258 comments I'll do what I can. Tried to ILL book, and found out that our library system is switching to a new vendor....so no ILL until the transition happens. It was supposed to be a week or so, but I guess it's gonna take longer than they thought. You should have seen the collective freakout when my colleagues heard about it at the fac meeting the other day!
The librarians are trying to advocate for one person to spend their day driving around to libraries picking stuff up. So far, the U says "no go". Pity, sounds like a way to get them outside and make their job different/fun for a few weeks!


message 7: by Bloodorange (new)

Bloodorange (pani_od_angielskiego) | 618 comments This reads so quickly! If not for the fact that I'm away this weekend/ I need to read the first section of Kingsolver's The Lacuna for another TYoRW group read, I think I could easily devour the entire novel. How much time do you think we need to discuss it?

I like how Rodereda juxtaposes seemingly unconnected thoughts, observations and ideas (ch. 1, the ramo scene). I also love the amount of detail

Chapter 2, the Park Guell date: Quimet irritates me as #%*@. I feel Rodoreda has Colometa poised to become a present-day saint. First person limited narration suits her naivete at this stage perfectly.

Chapter 3, the very end: why does she throw a paper ball at a neighbours' son? To express supressed emotions? As a way of conveying how childish she is at this point?

Chapter 4. Maybeit's because I've recently finished Amy Tan's The Kitchen God's Wife (which scarred me, if not for life, then for long), but the jealousy scene made me really, really worried.

Chapter 8. In the 1982 introduction, Merce Rodoreda lists her inspirations. The description of Quimet's body in this chapter is modelled on Bernat Metge's 'Description of a girl', in which his protagonist describes the body of his beloved. (I was surprised to read she wanted this novel, initially, to be Kafkaesque and absurd; )


message 8: by Zanna (new)

Zanna (zannastar) | 337 comments I hate Quimet
It's unusual that a novel about the horror of war starts in hell...it's like... this is hell but there is a hell below this one!


message 9: by Bloodorange (last edited May 07, 2015 12:53PM) (new)

Bloodorange (pani_od_angielskiego) | 618 comments Quimet is so far ticking all the boxes on the 'offensive sexist behaviours' checklist.

A question I'd rather not ask: Zanna, how far are you into the book? I stopped reading after the first "section (chapters 1-8)", and am currently overwhelmed by grading papers/ reading for student projects. Linda, if I understood correctly, does not have the book yet. Maybe it would be a good idea to wait a little? If you have some further reading plans and would not like to postpone The Time of the Doves (I don't quite get the English title, by the way; it should be The Diamond Square, or sth of the sort), I could try to read more intensively, but that would be hard.


message 10: by Zanna (new)

Zanna (zannastar) | 337 comments I have finished, but I will wait to discuss further!

Quimet wants Natalia to dress like his mother... And she treats Natalia like an incubator. Feminist hell


Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 258 comments Bloodorange wrote: "Quimet is so far ticking all the boxes on the 'offensive sexist behaviours' checklist.

A question I'd rather not ask: Zanna, how far are you into the book? I stopped reading after the first "secti..."


Hi!
I've finished the exams, just have to correct two sets and crunch numbers for four. I still don't have the book --that whole library/vendor thing. Hope to get it soon, will check with librarians tomorrow (they didn't have it on Tues.) Am also late on two others (though I have those...)


message 12: by Bloodorange (new)

Bloodorange (pani_od_angielskiego) | 618 comments Zanna wrote: "I have finished, but I will wait to discuss further!"

Major thanks, Zanna!:)

Does he tell her to tie cutesy ribbons everywhere, too?

After reading your previous message yesterday, I thought what I've seen so far of the Quimet-Colometa engagement and marriage reminds me of the Rochester-Antoinette dynamics in Wide Sargasso Sea - the systematic desctrucion of female self, starting with changing both first and second name. What you wrote now confirms this idea:/


message 13: by Bloodorange (new)

Bloodorange (pani_od_angielskiego) | 618 comments Linda wrote: "I've finished the exams, just have to correct two sets and crunch numbers for four."

My life now revolves around fitting in grading/reading for student projects into my regular teaching schedule, so go figure...


message 14: by Bloodorange (new)

Bloodorange (pani_od_angielskiego) | 618 comments Hi,
Are we picking up this week? How is the book situation, Linda? I'm still 'in the undertime', as we say in Polish, but could attempt to resume Rodoreda.


message 15: by Linda Abhors the New GR Design (last edited May 19, 2015 06:01PM) (new)

Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 258 comments Hi!
I got the book Friday afternoon, graduation weekend, ceremonies each day followed by semester recovery naps! Ah, naps!
I'm spending tonight on Lacuna (catching up), will start this, and then get going on Erdrich (and oh, yeah, my face time club wants me to finish and present on the next one--that's another 250 pp! And the conference paper.....I guess I thought May was going to be more calm....:)

But some sort of schedule would certainly help budget with all of these books.


Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 258 comments Bloodorange wrote: "Quimet is so far ticking all the boxes on the 'offensive sexist behaviours' checklist.

A question I'd rather not ask: Zanna, how far are you into the book? I stopped reading after the first "secti..."


The newest English translation does call it "The Diamond Square", referring to the plaza where they meet and dance, but "the time of the doves' must refer to his raising the doves or pigeons. Haven't started it yet, but aren't little doves or pigeons supposed to be the epitome of innocence? Pre-war innocence, perhaps?
Catalans were really repressed under Franco's regime, as were the Basques and Galicians. They weren't allowed to teach their languages in schools, and publicly speaking them was frowned upon. The Catalans have bounced back from this like no other linguistic minority group in Spain; they made a concerted effort to preserve and recover their language and culture, and have done so in spades.


message 17: by Bloodorange (new)

Bloodorange (pani_od_angielskiego) | 618 comments Linda wrote: "Haven't started it yet, but aren't little doves or pigeons supposed to be the epitome of innocence? Pre-war innocence, perhaps?"

Prelapsarian pigeons:)


message 18: by Bloodorange (new)

Bloodorange (pani_od_angielskiego) | 618 comments Linda wrote: "I'm spending tonight on Lacuna (catching up), will start this, and then get going on Erdrich (and oh, yeah, my face time club wants me to finish and present on the next one--that's another 250 pp! And the conference paper.....I guess I thought May was going to be more calm....:)

But some sort of schedule would certainly help budget with all of these books."


When could you fit it in? I have quite a lot on my hands right now, and would love to wait for you with this book. Still, there's Zanna. The book looks like a quick read (at least the first eight chapters were).


Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 258 comments We can start. I took it to Starbuck's just now along with The Lacuna. Still finishing part 3 of Lacuna, but set it up, I'll follow along!


Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 258 comments Bloodorange wrote: "Quimet is so far ticking all the boxes on the 'offensive sexist behaviours' checklist.

A question I'd rather not ask: Zanna, how far are you into the book? I stopped reading after the first "secti..."


Okay, Lacuna be hanged for a half day, I started this one. Only one chapter in. Does indeed read very fast.
I'm already thinking of Quimet as somewhat of a predator...he knows she has a boyfriend and keeps insisting (okay, lots of guys would say "Sure, why not? Can't blame a guy for trying."
But when she says her name is Natalia, he comes up with Colometa....there's a power in naming things, and he's taking that away from her.

The repetition of the end of the last sentence as the beginning of the next sentence reads like a song...a song sung to help people remember....Sort of like "There was an old lady who swallowed a fly...", you know?
But the importance of her absent mother, that continuous repetition of her mother's death and absence...already feeling sorry for her, but she seems to be setting up her excuses already.


Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 258 comments Chapter 2: Agree, BloodOrange, she seems to be setting the stage for the future as martyr. Feel the disaster coming on...one of my best friends in high school did exactly this--leave a nice guy who may have seemed a bit boring for someone who was critical, controlling, only interested in someone who had no self esteem, someone he could control.

Yikes...how did they translate "baldar"...at the end of the date, when he says it was a good thing they didn't stay up there in the park, out of sight?! It translates as "cripple". What a romantic....

This reads like a story told in the kitchen, over coffee, between neighbours. There's nothing sophisticated about the language at all.


Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 258 comments Chapter 3...ay ay ay...this guy's beyond pesado...his mother is looking forward to the girlfriend that he had chosen. She has nothing to say in the matter...oy.

What do you make of all of this obsession with ribbons in the future mother-in-law's house? At least, I take it that she will be the mother in law because this train apparently is going to wreck, no signs of stopping it.

How old is she?
Throwing the paper at the neighbour makes her seem light-hearted for a moment, at least, even if immature. If her mother died when she was young, then she was probably too serious too fast. I don't know what the intent was, Lord knows he probably knew where it came from and who lives up there, but I like that she experiences moments of humor and levity.

Is the mother in law's question about whether she likes to do housework foreshadowing, or just confirming what she says about her own mother's home life later--"this is the way it is, we have to accept it"?


Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 258 comments Chapter 4: What the heck is up with the lobster picture in the neighbour's house!?!? I mean, I know that as a rule, people in Cataluña are anti-monarchists, but jeez! Sounds like a Dalí painting (and the red-yellow ribbon makes it séem like she´s monarchist, not the other way around).

Quimet´s eyes are like a monkey´s, Cintet´s are like a cow, and her neighbour has a mouth like a fish....

Oh, the abuse is already too much.


Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 258 comments Chapter 5: I'm starting to think that as simple as it is, this is going to be very hard to read. Rarely do I find something "just too much", but it's really causing a visceral reaction with me.


Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 258 comments Am certain to be caught up by tomorrow!


message 26: by Bloodorange (new)

Bloodorange (pani_od_angielskiego) | 618 comments OK! I'll start on it again tomorrow. I plan to finish part 3 of Lacuna today.


message 27: by Linda Abhors the New GR Design (last edited May 21, 2015 07:25AM) (new)

Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 258 comments Hi! Shoot, Zanna! I think we're far enough to keep up!

Glad to hear that I'm not the only one behind on The Lacuna.

I'm through 11 now on Rodoreda. ugh. Not the book, the situation. Don't know whether the style is brilliant or not, jury's still out. There's nothing complex about her vocabulary, so is it brilliant that she captures this colloquial voice so well? Dunno.

I keep thinking that there're contradictions here. First, her father asks when she's getting married (is he in a hurry to get her out of the house or worried?), then disapproves. He says the family name stops with the child (technically, after one more generation, yes, but not with this baby), but then wants to choose the child's first name.

The neighbour thinks Quimet is her best choice. And then later, exhibits sympathy and teaches her how to dance around his moods, insecurities and jealousy.

And I cannot for the life of me figure out why they think Quimet is a better choice than her old boyfriend Pere. He owns his own place, but I don't see them as being so well off. No, they're not hungry, but I stifled a laugh when a friend sent some work his way "to make up for the cost of the wedding". What costs!? The cost of the wedding had to be close to miniscule. Don't think he's complaining about the hot chocolate mugs because of the cost, though, he's complaining about them because they bring her a tiny bit of joy and he wants to stifle anything that brins her joy, regardless of how small.


message 28: by Linda Abhors the New GR Design (last edited May 21, 2015 10:27AM) (new)

Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 258 comments Chapter 11-I guess I understand the whole ribbon obsession now.

Chapter 14-The market-the lambs, "the lambs' heads with their crystal eyes, their broken hearts...."

I've noticed the absence of her friend Julieta, as well as the wife of any of his male friends....her neighbour the only friend she seems to have, she's isolated.


message 29: by Bloodorange (new)

Bloodorange (pani_od_angielskiego) | 618 comments I think I'll try to read as much of it during the weekend as possible (which is probably less than during the work week), and come back to The Lacuna on Monday.


Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 258 comments This does indeed go fast. I'm about halfway through, glad you're jumping back in!

Last night (insomnia attack) there was a chapter (I'm only up to about 15 or 16) where she goes to someone's house. And the description is so rich that the author loses that middle-class narrative voice. She goes from barely being able to decipher the note on the door and the newspaper ad (ie barely literate) to this crazy rich description of trunks, furniture, etc. Little off.


message 31: by Bloodorange (new)

Bloodorange (pani_od_angielskiego) | 618 comments I have a feeling there must be a reason for her to marry Quimet and be so spaced out. I don't think it's an anachronistic thinking.

Chapter 9, and her meeting with Pere, was heartbreaking (she cannot recognize her Christian name? He is so destroyed? She is changed almost beyond recognition? And later goes to see the doll exhibition?).

Chapter 11 - she sounds curiously absent, divorced from reality, when she describes her breastfeeding crisis and the fear the child won't survive, but I can understand that.


Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 258 comments Bloodorange wrote: "I have a feeling there must be a reason for her to marry Quimet and be so spaced out. I don't think it's an anachronistic thinking.

Chapter 9, and her meeting with Pere, was heartbreaking (she can..."


I think it just comes down to that whole charisma thing. In the end, I don't see that they're living any better than she would have with the fellow who was cooking. Pere just didn't have "Game". Of course, ordinary people wouldn't have produced any story, either, right?
She sounds absent from a lot of things.

And she's obsessed with those dolls. It's her "go to a happy place" experience; she seems to find solace in looking at them, but I don't know why.


message 33: by Bloodorange (new)

Bloodorange (pani_od_angielskiego) | 618 comments It's odd how modern Quimet's model of behaviour appears, and Colometa's - how dated...


Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 258 comments Interesting....how so, modern?


message 35: by Bloodorange (new)

Bloodorange (pani_od_angielskiego) | 618 comments In the sense of "I think it is far more likely to find a man who behaves like he does than a woman who behaves like she does".


Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 258 comments Ah, yes, sadly, quite modern.


message 37: by Bloodorange (last edited May 23, 2015 02:24PM) (new)

Bloodorange (pani_od_angielskiego) | 618 comments Finished chapter 16 (my reading time on wekeends is v. limited). Their son and the way Quimet treats him freak me out - it seems he's bringing up an unmanageable mini-me, and I fear what may happen next.

Marginally related: have you read The Time in Between by María Dueñas? Is it any good? Somehow the words 'word-of-mouth phenomenon' make me cautious.


Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 258 comments Bloodorange wrote: "Finished chapter 16 (my reading time on wekeends is v. limited). Their son and the way Quimet treats him freak me out - it seems he's bringing up an unmanageable mini-me, and I fear what may happen..."

I thought exactly the same thing, and something tells me that the mother-in-law also saw it.

I have the Dueñas book, bc it was getting so much good press here, but that was when I was still new to GR, and didn´t realize that there´s no accounting for some GR taste just as there isn´t for some others.

My facetime book club has assigned it for summer reading, so in July and August I'll read it--the organizer went for it, because of late, the demographic of the club has changed, and we're getting more ladies over 50 than men. And some of them are pushing for us to read any old thing, as long as it was written by a woman, while others prefer to keep the literary quality high, regardless of who wrote it. And, frankly, women writers in Latin America have a tough time of it. So we've done Laforet's "Nada" in the last few months, I've suggested some Matute and perhaps this one for future, or Montero, and then we're doing "El tiempo" by Dueñas for September.

Honestly, I´m going along with it bc I already had it on my shelf. When I took a group to Seville last summer, the director of the institute loaned her second novel to me. They made a ¨telenovela¨out of the first one, so I thought, ¨Well, nice of her to loan it to me, I´ll give it a go.¨ I was not impressed and not only that, but was kind of annoyed that my reading time in Seville (and chance to get weight out of my suitcase) was taken with it. Not that it was horrible, just way too long and I don´t feel that it enriched my life any. Way too many ¨first-timer¨mistakes with regard to length/editing, perspective, etc. And it was the sophomore novel.
So no, I haven´t read that one, and yes, I know it won lots of kudos. Hope it´s better than the second one. I


message 39: by Bloodorange (new)

Bloodorange (pani_od_angielskiego) | 618 comments Let's hope the second book was written for the money, and the debut out of her authentic need:)

As for Rodoreda - I finished ch. 20. Don't know what to make out of the family in the dilapidated house.


message 40: by Bloodorange (new)

Bloodorange (pani_od_angielskiego) | 618 comments (I lack historical/ social context. What should I google?)


message 41: by Linda Abhors the New GR Design (last edited May 24, 2015 07:33AM) (new)

Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 258 comments Left book in car last night, don't know that I'm at 20 yet!
Google.......you mean, as to the Spanish Civil war?
Since I'm not at 20, I'm not sure if you need something more specific than that.....Cataluña(or Catalunya) suffered severe repression under Franco with regard to the language. Even though he was from the area of Galicia himself. I think I mentioned the whole language thing above. And it´s always been different from the rest of SPain, and ready to detach whenever because economically, it´s the strongest of the economies. It could separate and stand on its own two feet just fine. It now has political autonomy, which means that it makes its own separate local laws. I think some would still prefer secession. Last summer, they flew their own (non-royalist) flag when the king abdicated in favor of his son (not red, yellow, and black, but red, yellow and blue-purple).

I´ll get my book and check what you mean. Onset of the war was 1936, finished in 39. Franco got some help from the Nazis (air support, and the result depicted by Picasso in the famous work Guernica (Basque country)).


message 42: by Bloodorange (new)

Bloodorange (pani_od_angielskiego) | 618 comments I'm not sure what class/ background/ political affiliation this family represents. Rodoreda sends mixed signals: On the one hand, a Gothic hope chest, on the other - one has a feeling that they have been poor for a while - did you rwad about how they tricked a man who did their windows?


message 43: by Linda Abhors the New GR Design (last edited May 24, 2015 09:47AM) (new)

Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 258 comments Ah, gotcha.
That one I haven't read yet. But yes, there're so many houses in Barcelona in the Gothic district that are, frankly, the size of mansions. This sounds like one of those families. Dunno, it's an industrial section of the country, but just as many of the Gilded Age mansions around here were built with industry money, so could those have been. And there are lots of other works where this type of thing abounds--a family that used to be rich, now on the outs, and selling most things, but saving what they can -like a Gothic hope chest.

Carmen Laforet's "Nada" details a similar family, from the inside: they have a piano and old items stockpiled in one room of the house and some members of the family resist selling them. They're living hand to mouth, and they take this niece in, but complain when she forgoes meals with them to spend her money (which they used to get a chunk of) on her own. They have no skills or talents, other than music and painting.

Something like this family, but I still have to read more.


message 44: by Bloodorange (last edited May 24, 2015 02:20PM) (new)

Bloodorange (pani_od_angielskiego) | 618 comments Thank you - the very fact this seems to be a common trope changes my perspective a little.

I must say that although I understand this book is perceived as a very important element of the contemporary Catalan fiction canon, I cannot get over the fact that "[it's] also one of the staple readings in secondary school programs across Catalonia" (Wikipedia). I have no idea what teachers do with it to make it interesting, unless this novel has layers of meaning in the original and given sound knowledge of the context. It would make my students (The Age of Innocence, Their Eyes Were Watching God readers) comatose.


message 45: by Bloodorange (last edited May 24, 2015 02:21PM) (new)

Bloodorange (pani_od_angielskiego) | 618 comments Wow. Rodoreda has just taught me a lesson. Just finished chapter 25. It's very intense, although it "only" describes Colometa's rebellion against the pigeons. My heart started pounding when I was reading it.

Also, Mateo's confession in ch. 24 and her reaction to it? Is she falling in love? Or just feels human again, addressed in a way she is no longer used to? The fact that he says he shouldn't have constructed the passage for the pigeons and recognizes the fact that he unknowingly made her life hell, seems to give her the strength to do something about the birds.


message 46: by Linda Abhors the New GR Design (last edited May 24, 2015 06:36PM) (new)

Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 258 comments Hola!
Spent the whole day dealing with work issues and took one of our Fulbrights out and about on one of her last days, here in Newport and up to Fall River for Portuguese food. Not reading, ay ay ay. My f2f club will kill me on Sat!
Turns out I did make it this far.

The family she works for does seem incredibly cheap. First, they talked her price down (we'll pay you less, but pay you in cash every day), and making her pay for the glass she broke. Incredible.

I wasn't sure about the Mateu thing. He's crying over losing his wife, right? So I think she's feeling that he's a little more human, and that maybe there were better options out there for her than Quimet. For example, Cintet and Mateu have always been the ones to help her do things around the house; Quimet comes up with the idea, but does nothing. So, while I can't remember offhand her reaction to his confession, I think it's just making her think twice about her decision with it, acquiring some backbone, and allowing her the strength to do what she can: she won't leave him, but will make some inroads to acquiring some self-confidence.


Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 258 comments The only thing I see so far is about Barcelona, not Catalunya as a whole. The upper class lives way up on the hill (remember how Quimet said they were going to need a house farther up on the hill, so the doves could fly around, but that the doves' house would have a spiral staircase to climb up into it? Odd, I don't think birds care how they get to their food, as long as they get to it).
If you've ever seen Parc Guells, and the view of the entire city below it, that kind of explains it. We're talking serious hills. Anyone with problems hiking (old or infirm) has to take a cab up there, because the buses and streetcars don't run up that high. So maybe that has something to do with it. So far, I agree with you--don't see much else.


Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 258 comments okay, so the ever so helpful wikipedia notes that yes, it's more about Barcelona. Another reader notes that it chronicles the life during the war as experienced by those away from the front lines. And says the following:
Mercè Rodoreda (1908 – 1983) is considered the best Catalan writer. The book is regarded as the best at depicting life during the Spanish Civil War. It is also read as a symbol of resistance against General Franco’s repressive regime. Rodoreda wrote the book during a period when the survival of the Catalan language was in doubt. The Catalan title of the book, La plaça del diamant (translate as Diamond Square), refers to an actual plaza in Barcelona. The late poet David Rosenthal translated the book in 1981

So, it looks as though it has to do with the fact that it was probably one of the first books written in Catalan (in exile, note) at a time when the language was being repressed. And, having taught complex works to students who may not be ready for a certain level of required introspection, I'd guess that the style is easy for them to grasp and understand (she's not prone to analysis or complex thoughts).
I have my Spanish-language book club (f2f) this weekend. We don't have as many Catalan-area people at the moment, mostly Galicians, but I can ask. One is a teacher originally from Asturias, who grew up there during the Franco period (albeit the last years); if she's there, I can ask her if there's anything beyond the fact that it was an attempt at fortifying the language and preserving that culture.


message 49: by Bloodorange (new)

Bloodorange (pani_od_angielskiego) | 618 comments Linda wrote: "The only thing I see so far is about Barcelona, not Catalunya as a whole. The upper class lives way up on the hill (remember how Quimet said they were going to need a house farther up on the hill, ..."

Thanks for that bit of context! I didn't realize the distance from the hill translates into social status, also the turret Quimet wants gave me the idea that he wanted something fancy.


message 50: by Bloodorange (last edited May 25, 2015 07:22AM) (new)

Bloodorange (pani_od_angielskiego) | 618 comments Linda wrote: "I wasn't sure about the Mateu thing. He's crying over losing his wife, right? So I think she's feeling that he's a little more human, and that maybe there were better options out there for her than Quimet. For example, Cintet and Mateu have always been the ones to help her do things around the house; Quimet comes up with the idea, but does nothing."

I thought Mateu is crying over the loss of his family - he says, in my translation, that he cannot stand living in a house where there is no child. Natalia/ Colometa thinks about his eyes. Intensely.


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