It's amazing how a really good book can strike me dumb. I can't articulate how mind-blowing this novel is. Besides being a poetic, detailed narrative about three generations living in Barcelona from the 1870s to the early Franco era, the book unfolds with an incredibly complex narrative structure. Though ordered mostly chronologically, the numerous chapters could be a series of interrelated short stories, each focusing on one of the many characters. While Rodoreda builds several, amazing lifelike figures, she is at her best in the way she litters mines throughout the narrative. After the explosions--adultery, incest, murder, sexual fetishes--I repeatedly flipped back to earlier chapters, only to reread the briefest (at one point, just 15 words) hint at what is to come. These clues, even better, are revealed from someone else's perspective, so the sharpest point of characterization arises in the most unexpected places.In addition to the play with the novel form and the engaging epic story, the book is worth reading because of its ideas about the death of youth and innocence in ways both tragic and mundane, grand and depressingly ordinary.