"You're our mother and this is your country," I shouted at her, anything to stop her pain. "We don't care about that Middle Ages nonsense over there." But "over there" in his mother's natal Basque village, Pete finds himself stepping back into a medieval morality, into the rigid and unrelenting code of his ancestors, older and stronger than reason. Denied by his own blood kin, cold anger forges his determination to pierce the silence of the villagers and learn the circumstances of his mother's birth. One by one the ghosts rise up. Jeanne, beautiful and headstrong, who carried her head too high and invited a disaster she would defiantly embrace. Garat, her father, solid and unyielding as the stone of his ancestral house. Maitia, the golden child who would be Pete's mother, born to the hellish accompaniment of rough music that was the village's supreme censure for her mother's violation of the moral code. On the day of her First Communion, Maitia's cold baptism into the realm of shame killed forever her smile of innocence and stiffened a resolve that would last her lifetime. All her passion would be distilled toward one end - gaining the respect that, finally, could only be found across the sea, in America. Interwoven is the story of Petya, Pete's father, forced by accident to flee the high Pyrenees and find a new life as a lonely sheepherder in the northern deserts of Nevada. His struggles with loneliness and the temptations of emerging manhood provide a background for the stark reality of a young immigrant whose pain and growing sense of self-determination transform him into the essential being we know as American. In Robert Laxalt's earlier works he has written hauntingly of the beauty of his ancestral Basque homeland. Now, in the second volume of his Basque family trilogy, he lifts the veil that conceals the subtle cruelties of those fierce guardians of private scandal, the villagers who will keep from the world what is dear to them.
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Published October 1, 1992
by University of Nevada Press.
Literature & Fiction.