La mestra i la Bèstia

La mestra i la Bèstia / The Teacher and the Beast

Novel , 2023


Pages: 352

Best Novel of the Year Òmnium Award 2023

The story of a special person, a woman who grows up in the silence of the Franco regime and opens herself up to the world in a mountain village where the wounds of the past still fester.

In September 1962, a young, uncertain teacher with limited verbal communication skills arrives at her first job in a school in the Pyrenees. She fulfills her desires: to have a town, a job and a house from where she can watch the snow fall. She leaves behind a childhood marked by the mysterious activities of her father and an atypical upbringing under a mother torn between the irresistible impulse to shield her daughter from the mantras of the Regime and the fear of excessively isolating her from the prevailing normality.

The candid Severina, unaware of the social mores of a rural community and the marks left by history on its inhabitants, will fit together the pieces that unite her with the collective past thanks to Justa's common sense and the support of a fascinating man with whom she will live a deliciously one-sided passion. She will also discover to her horror that despite her discretion and amiability the community will not leave her alone.

“Superlative.” La Lectura, El Mundo

 “A novel that, thanks to its thoroughness, concision, bitterness, eloquence and enormous readability, euphorically passes the litmus test of finding another way to recount how a family is connected to historical memory.” El País

“Severina is a well-honed character, as real as life itself, and charming too. She honours her creator.” Ignacio Vidal-Folch. Crónica Global, El Español

“Monsó's light and beautiful prose takes you where it wants to. [...] Severina could undoubtedly form part of the genealogy of strange girls, very like Carmen Laforet's Andrea. [...] It somewhat shakes up one’s expectations to come across such deep and lively characters in contemporary literature...” Carmen G. de la Cueva, CTXT

 "The story flows magnetically, thanks to the power of the character of Severina [...]. With this novel Monsó takes a step forward and reflects on the universal – and very topical – theme of war, exploring how it affects people, how some people decide to play a role in History while others want nothing to do with it." Valeria Gaillard, El Periódico

“Within a setting of incorruptible realism, Monsó's novels have a touch of the bizarre, with their out-of-the-ordinary figures, consciously developed as a form of resistance to the standardising sieve of modern life. [...] We always find psychological and narrative complexity in her books, and an eccentricity in the characters.” Julia Guillamón, Culturas, La Vanguardia

“Severina is a 100% Monsó character, in other words, very solemn, and careful with her words to the point of obsession.” Tina Vallès, Vilaweb

“A great work of remembrance and imagination, a celebration of the novel’s potential to help us understand the world.” Anagrama

“Without a doubt, Imma Monsó's great success in this painstaking, morose and delicate novel is her ability to go beyond the subject of the Civil War and the political cliché to create a character that moves and shakes us, without ignoring them.” El Correo


“It could pass for a moral tale about growing up when nothing has prepared you to be an adult, and realizing that learning comes in the end, no matter how much you try to protect yourself. But La mestra i la Bèstia is also a novel about discovering the wild beauty in others, about the impossibility of living alone.” El Punt Avui