"Maria Barbal's restrained narrative of a woman's life in Stone in a Landslide (Peirene Press) offers us a rich, sparse and poignant reflection on history and humanity. Spell-binding storytelling suffuses this modern European novel. .... Every word is of value in this taut evocation of love, loss, life and death." Morag Charlwood, Guardian Readers recommend their favourite books 2010
"Stone in a landslide is remarkable. In 100 or so pages it sets out the life of a catalan peasant through the 20C. Maria Barbal calmy describes this life's turmoil with supernatural precision. Leaving home forever aged 13, covered in less than a page. The death of her beloved husband, in a few lines. And so on. Deep emotional resonance, but no histrionics. One of the best books I've ever read." Luke Smith
"This is a beautiful little book. It's simplicity is what made it shine for me. The story begins in Catalonia just after the turn of the twentieth century and it spans several generations. The fact that so much detail is packed in to such a small book (126 pages in total) is a testament to the genius of the author. I very much enjoy the work of writers who can conjure up pictures in your mind without going to the "nth" degree. This is such a book. Told in snapshots, some of the memories of Conxa, the main character, are every day and ordinary, but they give a true picture of much larger events......in particular the background of the Spanish Civil War." Teresa Jewett, North Yorkshire
"Peirene should be congratulated for an amazing book. The storytelling is quite simply mesmerising, and the outcome full of a pathos which is strangely relevant to women of our own time. The central character displays wonderful strength and fortitude and yet despite this finds herself carried along by events which are out of her control. As the tragedy unfolds, it is impossible not to weep for her and yet she continues to inspire rather than become a figure of pity." Mel Quacquarelli
"I loved it – Barbal offers an authentic humble peasant voice, captures the level of understanding of an illiterate, isolated woman in 1930s rural Spain - her understanding of life – war, politics, marriage, based on the absolute necessity of work, caring for the land and animals in order to eat. I love her homespun metaphors, most of all the “stone in a landslide” – despite everything, the suffering, the cataclysmic changes to her way of life, Conxa retains such integrity, a grounded tenacity that ultimately sustains her, that somehow gives you hope." Rosemary Bailey, author of "Love and War in the Pyrenees"
"I much enjoyed Stone in a Landslide: it emanates sunshine and the slow pace of Catalan rural life. The writing is lovely ... Such a strong central character, and such a wonderful portrayal of her developing from uncertain girlhood and passionate first love to maturity, the finding of her own way; that heartrending discovery that love and marriage does not solve the problem of existence, but poses all sorts of problems of its own. It’s so lovely the way Conxa explores the unsettling fact of her differing world view, of how her husband’s passionate involvement in politics is so at odds with her all-consuming domestic concerns. And how she emerges triumphant from such a long and ‘difficult’ life. I put down the book with an overwhelming sense of how petty is our modern-day preoccupation with personal ‘trauma’ in this cosseted part of the world!" Kate Ashton, writer and translator