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Authors: Almudena Grandes

Tags: #Fiction, #Literary, #Contemporary Women

The Wind From the East

BOOK: The Wind From the East
13.43Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
Table of Contents
“In her fifth novel, Grandes reaches the peak of her powers.This magnificent saga of shipwrecked lives grips from the first sentence and weaves parallel intrigues of memory and survival, money and revenge, resolved only in the closing pages. . . . Here, she has perfected her ability to leap between stories and epochs.”
—Elizabeth Nash,
“This novel confirms Almudena Grandes as one of Spain’s leading writers . . . she reveals herself as a powerfully perceptive writer who understands the subtleties of human nature. . . . A hugely intelligent, wise novel.”

Sunday Telegraph

The Wind from the East
promises a lot of bang for your buck . . . Grandes never lets the pace slacken, combining a cracking story with convincing characterisation and good detail.”
—Miranda France,
Daily Telegraph
“[A] classy blockbuster—a layered saga of family life, rivalry and redemption.”
—Joanna Briscoe,
“Grandes can maintain such a high level of emotional tension without its collapsing into melodrama.The past lives of Juan and Sara seem full of unrelenting torment and hardship.Yet the dexterity with which Grandes is able to unpick psychological states makes for a convincing and moving book.We emerge from the story’s tunnel with a sense of qualified optimism.”

The Times
“This big, juicy saga is perfect for chilly nights; thrilling and toe-curling in equal measure.This is Grandes’s second novel following her successful
The Ages of Lulu
. She’s now a fixture on my holiday reading list.”

Sunday Times
“Plenty of passion in this huge, florid romance. There’s an absorbing small-town soap opera at its core.”

The Saturday Age
“Originally written in Spanish, it doesn’t seem to lose anything in translation, and has that quality typical of good Latin writing; detailed, vivid and colourful imagery and still retaining a simplicity and rawness, making it entertaining and believable at the same time.”

Fremantle Herald
To Luis,
For the light of every summer
I would have preferred to be an orphan in death, to be without you there, in the mystery than here, in what I know.
To have died before, to feel your absence in the treacherous wind.
—Manuel Altoloaguirre,
Soledades Juntas
Two Beginnings
The east wind was blowing when the Olmedo family arrived at their new home. It lifted the canvas awnings from their aluminum frames, swelling them out then dropping them suddenly before inflating them again, producing a continuous, dull, heavy noise like a flock of monstrously large birds flapping their wings. All around, neighbors were hurriedly taking down their awnings, all of them green, all identical. From time to time, the rhythmic, high-pitched squeal of rusty metal could be heard beneath the sound of the wind, a piercing noise that Juan Olmedo immediately recognized as the scraping of the metal bars in their rings. He reflected that he’d been unlucky.There was something sinister about the contrast between the bright blue sky and the brilliant sun reflecting off the facades of the houses—all of them white, all identical—and this hostile, savage wind. A couple of times, on the journey from Jerez, he had promised Tamara that he would take her for a swim in the sea before lunch; but the perfect sunny morning that had seemed so tempting through the car windows had suddenly been transformed into this nightmarish storm. Now the girl was one step behind him, looking around warily, seeing it all for the first time but saying nothing. Alfonso had remained behind but Juan didn’t notice until he unlocked the front door of number thirty-seven.The unmistakable smell of decorating sprang at him like a cat covered in paint and varnish, and an old yellowed newspaper, stiff with droplets of paint, trembled slightly before flying out of the door and scattering in the wind. Juan watched as the loose pages danced in the gusts of air, swirling suddenly upwards or being dragged along the ground. Then he caught sight of his brother standing like a post at the intersection of two streets paved identically in red, his legs planted firmly apart, his arms hanging limply down, his head swaying slowly from side to side.Alfonso’s face was raised up to the wind, and he was frowning, his mouth open. Juan glanced down at Alfonso’s flies—a check he made so often now it had become almost instinctive—and saw with relief that they were closed. His poor brother, sniffing the air like a clumsy, disorientated animal, was conspicuous enough without exposing his clumsy disorientated penis. Juan went over to him and hugged him gently, smiling, then kissed him on the cheek before leading him away, an arm around his shoulders. Alfonso nodded several times, vigorously, as if trying to detach his head from his neck. As the two brothers made their way along the narrow pavement, the wind showered them in a flurry of pink, red, and purple bougainvillea petals. At last Alfonso Olmedo smiled. Tamara was waiting for them, leaning against a wall, clutching a brightly colored jewelry box, a couple of books and a Barbie doll. She burst out laughing when she saw her two uncles “in bloom.” Alfonso’s bald head, Juan’s hair and their trousers, shirts and arms were all covered in petals, making them look like a comical cross between a pair of badly camouflaged soldiers and two mimes dressed up as flowering shrubs. Juan joined in the laughter as he brushed the petals off himself and Alfonso and gently ushered his family into the hall. As he shut the door, he wondered whether this wasn’t all a big mistake—the new house, new job, new town hundreds of miles from their old home. But then it was still much too soon to tell.
Sara Gómez had watched the entire scene from her bedroom window, which was firmly shut to keep out the wind. She had been checking that the shutters were secure when she’d noticed a tall, dark man in the distance, followed closely by a little girl who was also dark, with hair cut in a bob, and the disproportionately long legs of a child in the middle of a growth spurt. She had watched them with interest because that day, August 13, was a Sunday, the shops were closed, and the wind was blowing furiously—a combination that forced her to rest, reluctantly. She’d been very busy for the past few weeks. Setting up a new home, with all the myriad little tasks that she considered essential, was turning out to be more time-consuming than she’d expected.When she had finally found a cheese grater she liked, she realized she needed a garlic crusher, but when she found that, she realized that the toilet mirror was too small, or that she couldn’t let one more day pass without ordering mosquito screens for all the bedrooms.Time slipped by quickly in the car parks of shopping centers, taking the summer along with it, and with summer, all those hot sunny days at the beach that had lured her to this town, this landscape so very different from the big city where she was born and grew up, where she had lived for her not especially outstanding fifty-three years.That was why she had resolved not to let a single sunny morning pass without swimming in the sea, no good afternoon with a low tide go by without strolling along the wet sand leaving every last bather behind.The imminent arrival of September worried her. Although she could not recall ever having made as satisfying a decision as the purchase of this house, she still wasn’t sure how people lived in autumn in a small town where the taxis didn’t have meters and where you could go almost anywhere on foot.
The other new arrivals felt a similar anxiety, although Sara couldn’t yet know that. She wasn’t even sure they were here to stay. House number thirty-seven was still under construction when she decided to buy number thirty-one, which was already complete except for the finishing touches.That was why she had chosen it, and she hadn’t enquired about the neighbors. Instead of the distasteful railings that she’d pictured before she visited the development, she found that the garden of each house was surrounded by solid, whitewashed walls over four feet high providing total privacy. With the awnings up, there wasn’t the slightest gap for a curious passer-by to see what was happening on the porch of the house opposite, and if she hadn’t been looking out of an upstairs window at the time of the Olmedos’ arrival, she would have been quite unaware of their presence. She had been so pleased with the privacy the walls provided that she hadn’t paid much attention to the estate agent when he explained to her in a monotonous voice—a speech he had clearly made many times before—that the walls were designed to shelter the garden from the constant winds.Alternately dry and loaded with sand, or else damp and surprisingly cold, these winds could be a blessing at certain times of year but even so, they were almost always destructive, although the estate agent preferred to describe them as merely “inconvenient.”
BOOK: The Wind From the East
13.43Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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