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Paloma Sánchez-Garnica

430 pages

The friendship between Rafael Figueroa and Antonio Montejano, misplaced loyalty, mutual betrayal, support, and the decisions made by each of them, weave their own destiny along with that of their families. Both started out on the same social playing field, with similar prospects, but life leads them along very different routes. Antonio marries Marta Ribas, a young, beautiful, intelligent woman who dreamed of becoming a pianist and giving concerts around the world, a dream that was stifled in favor of the marriage and her longing to become a mother. Rafael Figueroa very soon becomes a father, but loathes his wife and desperately loves another woman.

Life maintains Rafael on a pedestal of power, while Antonio plunges into hellish depths, dragging his family down with him. Unwell, stripped of his house and his livelihood, he mostly survives off handouts from Raphael, who offers his spurious assistance in a sinister attempt to keep the Montejano-Ribas couple dependent and suppressed. Caught between the two friends, Marta feels that life is slipping from her grasp, forced to give up everything she considers her own.

Everything that happens to the parents has an effect on the children in one way or another. Elena Montejano and Julia Figueroa have been friends since childhood, now they are eighteen and starting to discover love and sex. Their lives fall apart and are rebuilt, always subject to the decisions of others. Basilio, Julia’s brother, is a young man with seemingly good prospects who gets carried away by bad company and falls into the dangerous world of drugs and prostitution networks. His decisions critically influence his own life as well as Elena Montejano’s fate.

Marta has no option but to start working, exposing herself to neighborhood gossip and her husband’s outrage, as his manly pride is dented. But Marta is presented with an unexpected opportunity that will enable her to secure her own survival and that of her daughter, and at long last find her place in the world. La sonata del silencio is a novel about passion, jealousy and cherished dreams. It is a story of post-war Spain, chestnut sellers and coalmen, cocktails in Chicote and black-market nylon stockings. It is an everyday building in which wealth and poverty, success and failure, are separated by nothing more than a thin wall.