The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera

Fascinating for nostalgic classicists!

Prudencia Prim wants to escape the boring, superficial business world and unexpectedly finds herself in a small village that seems to have got stuck in a previous century. We are introduced to her boss, ‘the Man in the Wing Chair’, his protegé nephews and nieces, who enjoy the Latin Masters, and several other personages, who all have chosen to follow the same culturally refined but old-fashioned lifestyle.

Miss Prim soon develops a love-hate relationship to her host and has great trouble facing his rather extreme religious views. She leaves for Italy in despair after some months and spends​ time in Nursia, as suggested by her aged mentor. There she experiences a spiritual awakening and decides to return to San Ireneo and the Man in the Wing Chair.

The characters are well developed and Miss Prim’s philosophical and emotional struggles are convincing, but the classic references sometimes go over our heads. Some details aren’t quite credible or appear prominently and then fizzle out (e.g. the value of Little Women) and the ending leaves too much unanswered. Occasionally the language is a bit stilted, perhaps through translation.

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