Garden by the Sea


by Mercè Rodoreda

February 18, 2020 
novel | pb | 230 pgs.
5.5" x 8.5"


The novel that defined Mercè Rodoreda’s most prolific period is finally available in English for the first time. Set in 1920s Spain, Garden by the Sea takes place over six summers at a villa by the sea inhabited by a young couple and their beautiful, rich, joyous friends. They swim, drink, tease each other, and fully enjoy themselves. All the while, the guests are observed by the villa’s gardener, a widow who’s been tending the garden for several decades. As the true protagonist of the novel, we get to see the dissolution of these magical summers through his eyes, as a sense of darkness and ending creeps in, precipitated by the construction of a new, larger, more glamorous villa next door.

Considered by many to be one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century, Rodoreda has captivated readers for decades with her exacting descriptions of life—and nature—in post-war Spain, and this novel will further her reputation and fill in an important piece of oeuvre.

Translated from the Catalan by Maruxa Relaño and Martha Tennent 

About the Author:

Mercè Rodoreda is widely regarded as the most important Catalan writer of the twentieth century. Exiled in France and Switzerland following the Spanish Civil War, Rodoreda began writing the novels and short stories—Twenty-Two Short Stories, The Time of the Doves, Camellia Street, Garden by the Sea—that would eventually make her internationally famous, while at the same time earning a living as a seamstress. In the mid-1960s, she returned to Catalonia, where she continued to write. Camellia Street, Death in Spring, The Selected Stories of Mercè Rodoreda, and War, So Much War are also available from Open Letter.

About the Translators:

The mother and daughter translation team of Martha Tennent and Maruxa Relaño has translated a number of works from Spanish and Catalan into English, including War, So Much War by Mercè Rodoreda. Tennent also received a NEA fellowship for her translation of The Selected Stories of Mercè Rodoreda.



Praise for Garden by the Sea:

“When you read [Death in Spring], read it for its beauty, for the way it will surprise and subvert your desires, and as a testament to the human spirit in the face of brutality and willful inhumanity.”—Jesmyn Ward, NPR

“It is a total mystery to me why Rodoreda isn’t widely worshipped. . . . She’s on my list of authors whose works I intend to have read all of before I die.”—John Darnielle, The Mountain Goats

“Rodoreda has bedazzled me by the sensuality with which she reveals things within the atmosphere of her novels.”—Gabriel García Márquez

“Rodoreda plumbs a sadness that reaches beyond historic circumstances . . . an almost voluptuous vulnerability.”—Natasha Wimmer, The Nation

“Mercè Rodoreda is the writer I cannot stop talking about.”—Alberto Ríos

“The humor in the stories, as well as their thrill of realism, comes from a Nabokovian precision of observation and transformation of plain experience into enchanting prose.”—Los Angeles Times

“In a novel notable for its graceful, restrained prose—sensitively rendered by translators Tennent and Relaño—Catalan fiction writer Rodoreda creates a finely etched portrait of 1920s Spanish society, as seen through the eyes of a quietly attentive gardener. . . . A captivating tale gently spun.”Kirkus Reviews