This is my fifth year doing the Back to the Classics challenge. Though I’ve read already 6 of the 12 books in the challenge, I’ve only posted reviews for two. And I feel for catching up. So be ready to see several short reviews for this and the TBR challenge as well, -which is new to me this year-.
Los pazos de Ulloa, The House of Ulloa in English, was written in 1886. Emilia Pardo Bazán was the mistress of my favorite author, Benito Pérez Galdós, and an accomplished novelist in her own merit. She’s from the Spanish region called Galicia. I remember as a young girl, 10 or 11, we did a family car trip around Galicia, and we visited her nice home there.
She’s the Spanish version of Zola. Naturalist, they call her. There’s a TV series based on the book. This book, -as well as Galdós’s Fortunata and Jacinta, render themselves well to screen adaptations. They are realist dramas that happen in Spanish small towns, places one can still film for a nice epoch drama. It’s the Spanish equivalent of the Victorian books and TV series and movies we are familiar with.
If one wants to understand a country, her country of birth, nothing better than going to its literature and art expressions of the past. Naturalist and realists of the XIX century are masters at giving you a whole universe with its people and its landscape.
The story is compelling. It’s one of those books with a simmering plot, and towards the end, the pace quickens and it becomes a mystery of sorts. The characters are lifted up from the print, so real one has the feeling of having lived at Ulloa for a while.
Time spent with XIX century Spanish lit for me, is time well spent. I admire Bazán’s command of language, her restraint and ability to disappear as a writer and to present you people and their lives in an intimate way but also from an omniscient point of view.
The novel is about Don Julián, a young and shy priest that moves to Ulloa, where Don Pedro lives the life of a master who is also enslaved to his own desires and to his subjects.
The best comparison I can find for it, it’s like if you gave calming pills to all the people in Wuthering Heights. There’s thematic similarities. Maybe Gothic literature is Naturalism/Realism unleashed! At Ulloa, the drama and tension build up masterfully, the tension inside the characters are du Maurier’s Rebecca like.
A very minor classic for those outside the Spanish language’s groove, but a book that won’t disappoint any of you who like a well told drama.