(From the moment I opened the book and saw the name Adolf I thought Hitler! I don’t know why. Adolf is a perfectly wonderful name. Every time I see the name Joseph, I don’t think Stalin! )
After Blanca’s mother dies her father slowly begins to lose his sanity. He was once a praised student, a genius. Everyone thought he would make something of himself, but life isn’t perfect, and he ends up in poverty with a sick wife and a naive daughter. Erwin’s way of coping with wife’s death causes him to go back into his high school years. He travels back to a time where all of his dreams were still possibilities, and his talents were recognized and favoured by everyone. Erwin is so ensnared by his delusions that he becomes blind to the abusive life of his daughter. Eventually, he disappears. Presumably, he is dead.
Blanca, who starts the novel through narrating her present life, slowly travels back into her past, alternating between her narrations. As the novel progresses, she begins to narrate only about her past. She was a genius, who had opportunities at her disposal. However, as her past catches up to her present she begins to lose her sanity, burning down churches and even giving herself up to the authorities. During the ending of the novel, Blanca becomes entrapped by her need to lose her fear. As she travels to Vizhnitz she ends up getting beaten and raped, but has little consideration to these horrific events. Blanca is unable to realize she has approached gendarmes (giving herself away) claiming that they remind her of her high school janitors.