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José María Gironella: Ha estallado la paz (Peace after War)

The third book in the tetralogy is, without a doubt, the least interesting. (He published a fourth book twenty years later, which has not been translated into English, and which looks at World War II from the Spanish perspective and is generally considered the weakest of the tetralogy. He had planned a fifth and sixth but these were never written.) Peace is, of course, less interesting than war. There are no battles, no great tragedies, no major interactions between men and women under stress. The story is once again set in Gerona and once again follows the Alvear family, particularly the troubled Ignacio. But without the give and take of war, it becomes more of a recounting of events, without much passion. Gironella does give us some fine characters – the wonderfully named Dr Chaos, the Civil Governor and the Bishop, determined to restore the church’s authority – but much of the book is, frankly, dull. Ignacio’s travels offer only some relief. Frankly, you are better off with the two earlier books and leaving this one be.

Publishing history

First published in Spanish 1966 by Editorial Planeta
First published in English 1969 by Knopf
Translated by Joan MacLean