March 4, 2013: “Summer of ’38” by Colm Tóibin
I found this story by Colm Tóibin pretty ordinary, although beautifully told in an unusual setting. The story is available to read online for free. The Q&A with Colm Tóibin doesn’t make the story any more interesting, although I did learn something about the author.
The story is told in retrospect, although the present frame is the most interesting part of it. An older woman, Montse, who lives in an isolated village in Spain, is caused to reflect on the Summer of ’38 because an old soldier, who had become one of Franco’s Generals, is returning to visit and has asked to see her. She claims that she has no recollection of him but at first agrees to meet with him anyway. In fact, though, she remembers him well because she had had an affair with him. The story then launches into the long recollection of that affair. She became pregnant but the soldier had to leave. She married Paco, who had longed for her, and he treated the child as his own. (Yawn.) Returning the present, Montse summons the child (who now is a doctor, and married with children of her own), and the reader suspects that Montse will not only tell the daughter who her true father is but will introduce them.
Read the story to find out what happens!
Again, while the writing is beautiful, and the setting unusual, I was hoping for more than a story about a poor slob who knows his wife is pregnant with another man’s child but raises the baby as his own.
I find that when I say things like this, lots of people disagree with me but don’t speak up. Feel free to do so! Please leave a comment telling me why you loved this story.