PUBLISHERS OF LITERARY FICTION SINCE 1983
During the Spanish Civil War, the River Jarama was the scene of a bloody, month-long battle, which ended in a stalemate. The Republicans suffered about 25,000 casualties and the Nationalists 20,000. In the novel, set nearly twenty years later, the Jarama has become a favourite picnic spot for those wanting to escape the Madrid heat. The novel describes one broiling hot day in August. Various groups of people from Madrid - young and old, married and single - have gone down to the River Jarama to swim and to picnic. During the course of the day they talk, flirt, get drunk, argue and, mostly, make their peace, and the novel carries the reader effortlessly from conversation to conversation, allowing us to eavesdrop on the characters' very ordinary and profoundly recognisable lives. Sánchez Ferlosio has a fine ear for the rhythms and poetry of spoken language, He has an eye too for the dark poetry of that 'great, silent, caressing beast', the River Jarama, and it is the river which, long after the war has ended, claims yet another victim.