Motherhood, Clothing, and Class in Almudena Grandes' Los aires difíciles

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Scholarship on Almudena Grandes has been analysed heretofore through the theoretical prisms of memory, gender, eroticism, and the family, but with a conspicuous lack of attention to class. Departing from an interdisciplinary theoretical basis of fashion studies, sociology, and contemporary Spanish history, this article will consider the maternal conveyance and filial negotiation of class in Almudena Grandes’ 2002 novel, Los aires difíciles. I postulate that the daughter’s affiliation to the inflexible conceptualisation of class endorsed by her adoptive mother, Doña Sara, ultimately hinders (and annuls) her capacity to achieve her maximum potential during Spain’s apertura, when class divisions subsided due to Spain’s unprecedented prosperity. Thus, the adoptive mother is firmly positioned in this narrative as the wielder, not so much of
inflexible gender expectations, but rather of mercantile class norms that ultimately prevent Sara from availing of increased social mobility from the 1960s onwards. This article will divide into two parts: an initial theoretical scrutiny of the relationship between class, clothing and motherhood, whilst the second part will examine their interrlelated functions in the novel in question.

Bibliographic note

Dr. Lorraine Ryan is a Birmingham Fellow in the Department of Hispanic Studies. She has published extensively on the sociology of memory, cultural and collective memory in Contemporary Spain, and Spanish women's writing. In 2014, her monograph, Memory and Spatiality in Post-Millennial Spanish Narrative, was published as part of the Ashgate New Hispanisms Series.


Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
JournalBulletin of Spanish Studies
Early online date21 Mar 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Mar 2018


  • Contemporary Spanish Women's Writing, Mothers and Daughters in Spanish Culture, Contemporary Spanish Narrative, Almudena Grandes