“Quan jo vaig néixer, ma mare no parlava” (when I was born, my mother did not speak), says Marga, one of the three protagonists at the beginning of At home we have a hymn (L’Altra Editorial), the new novel by Maria Climent (Amposta, 1985). And it is that her mother, Erne, stopped talking for nine years, without anyone knowing the cause, and it was not until her little daughter was seven that she did it again.
Climent does not remember where this premise came from, that “it is just one more among the themes that the novel touches on”, but it was clear to him that “he wanted to make a strange mother, who has two daughters and raises them in her own way and how that it affects, conditions them for the rest of their lives”. And it is that when her husband dies, he begins a new life by going to live in Tuscany. Fifteen years later, the daughters will arrive there, Marga, single who lives in a shared apartment without a defined life or work project, and Remei, the eldest, who until now has had a life defined by everything that is expected: she left. from the town to the capital married to her long-term boyfriend, has a son and is a doctor in a hospital.
“I wanted to play a strange mother, who has two daughters and raises them in her own way and how that affects them,” explains the author.
But life chokes her and she unexpectedly drags her sister to visit her mother on a trip that “gives them an opportunity to meet again, to rebuild bridges and to dare, above all, to dare to change their lives,” says the author. . In the process, the three will remember episodes in their lives that have led them to where they are now, especially the experiences in the town where the girls grew up, Arnes (Terra Alta), on the border with Matarraña, in Aragon. Climent places it here partly because his first work, gina (L’Altra, 2019), already passed to the Ràpita “and I wanted to change a little, but not too much. In Arnes there is more distance towards Aragón because it is easier to go to Valderrobres than to go down to Tortosa. It’s funny because you go ten kilometers further and you’re already in Cretas or Beceite, where they speak exactly the same but they don’t feel Catalan at all, but rather Aragonese, that amazed me. In the end, they speak a variant of Tortosino, and I made the mother from Tortosa a little to improve my health, but I did get a lot of advice on the Terra Alta variant, which has some differences.” “The town is almost like another protagonist, like a watchman all the time. It happens to many Ebrenses that if you want to study you have to leave and then the idea of returning always hovers over you”.
The novel advances with the voices of the three protagonists, each from their own point of view: “I was interested in capturing how these interfamily relationships of two estranged daughters work with their mother who are different and similar at the same time, what is genetic and what is learned behavior, and how they are related. For Climent, the reader “can identify with anyone, because in the end they are three women at different points in their lives and who have made very different decisions.”
Behind it, there is a very serious story, a great secret: “In many families there are great secrets that have never been talked about, that perhaps everyone in the town knows but not the specific person.” But unlike of ginawhere part of the plot was based on his life, “here I have had the freedom to invent everything and that has relaxed me.” In the end, the idea remains that everyone has the right to a second chance, to choose to be who they want to be and overcome the past.