Review of the book “They say I loved you so much” by Mar Moreno.
By Paqui Bernal.

In “They say I loved you so much” Mar Moreno surprises us by turning his literary career around after having won several awards in different genres in a very short space of time.

The theme of the novel is quite obvious from the beginning because the cover is already very revealing. But also, the first scene is quite eloquent. The protagonist, Isabel León, visits a woman’s grave. And the cemetery guard asks him:

  • Let’s close, ma’am. His sister?
  • No
  • A familiar?

Isabel puts her hand on the marble as a farewell, without answering.

Little by little we realize that the author narrates the friendship of Isabel, a well-off girl from La Carolina (in Jaen), with Laura, the daughter of the caretakers of her father’s estate. Isabel’s mother will be the first to separate her from her close friend because of her family’s “red” past, although she claims that she does it to prevent Isabel from being infected by Isabel’s bad education. little girl.

Mar Moreno has a special ability to create the atmosphere, describing the fashion and music of the fifties, or through objects. And the author adds to her descriptions an endless number of small details that place the reader in La Carolina, like another character who was experiencing the same events: smelling typical foods of that region, and walking through emblematic places of the town and its surroundings. .

Mar Moreno demonstrates a wonderful management of the time of the story and, although the story continually dances between the past and the present, we do not get lost. Not only that, but very often she keeps us intrigued by leaving the resolution of some conflict on hold until she returns to that moment she left open.

Furthermore, he makes a very good portrait of the characters, especially Isabel’s mother, a neurasthenic and self-centered lady. Also that of Laura, much more daring than Isabel -having grown up in a freer family environment-. The character of Damián (Isabel’s boyfriend) is very well-rounded: he is fond of the Franco Regime, a careerist, a climber and a life-forgiver. Like those of the Civil Guards, in their repressive role against dissidents. But I must say that the author not only makes us feel affection for any character, but even for others to whom someone simply alludes, and that is knowing how to write.

On the other hand, Mar describes family relationships very well, showing in a very reliable way the treatment between parents and children in those years. In that sense, she reminded me of some novels by Antonio Muñoz Molina, when he underlines the importance of relationships with uncles and cousins ​​among Andalusians, which in my experience continues to be a sign of identity.

The behavior of the couples during the Franco era is also very well drawn (when they did not have complete sexual relations and had to resort to touching), the machismo and control that were so normalized in Spanish society. The author makes the intimate friendship between Laura and Isabel plausible, despite belonging to different social classes, narrating their approach with great patience and from different angles. In fact, their love encounter occurs in a very natural and tremendously poetic way.

In conclusion I will say that “They say I loved you so much” is not a novel full of literary adventures. But it seems that, like Luís Mateo -the winner of the 2023 Miguel de Cervantes Prize-, Mar moreno is more interested in the so-called epic of everyday life, the exploits of ordinary people.

A curious detail is that, looking back on reading this novel, I have had the feeling that it is loaded with a strong dream component that gives the entire text a special appeal. In summary, I can only recommend reading “They say I loved you so much” because, above all, it is a very beautiful story.


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