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Summary of Miau

Lucy Clark, Joanne Grady, Fiona Mitchell, Emma Soudain, Lisa Monette,

Erica Boak, Kelly Mason & Meena Toora

(Former 2nd year Galdós students at the University of Sheffield)

Miau tells the story of an unemployed civil servant, Ramón de Villaamil, who is desperate for reinstatement and requires only two more months of service to ensure his pension. Meanwhile, his wife, Doña Pura, his sister-in-law and his unmarried daughter, Abelarda, fritter away what little money they have and are concerned only with keeping up social appearances. Their feline facial features earn them the nickname of the 'Miaus'. Villaamil is especially close to his grandson, Luisito, whose visions of God can be said to mirror his relationship with his grandfather. The family is thrown into turmoil with the arrival of Luisito's father, the corrupt Víctor Cadalso. Víctor trifles with Abelarda's affections and acts as a rival to Villaamil in the latter's hopes of recovering his career. He is, in every way, a contrast to the upright Don Ramón. The novel ends with the death of Villaamil, who shoots himself.

Miau can be viewed as a harsh critique of nineteenth-century Spain and its political system or an attack on the self-centred attitude of Villaamil himself. The novel explores the still-relevant themes of family tensions, unemployment, materialism and middle-class values.

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