Her interest in books was indiscriminate. She was as happy to read the magic books from her Uncle Marcos’s enchanted trunks as she was to contemplate the Liberal Party documents her father kept in his study.
She spent the main part of her time and energy in these extravagant pursuits. She developed the capacity to guess an astonishing percentage of the cards in a deck, and invented games of fantasy to play with her brothers and sisters.
She so successfully compensated for the lack of friends with her own total dedication, however, that Clara grew up happily and in later years would recall her childhood as a luminous part of her existence, despite her solitude and muteness.
A synonym for "apparition" is "spirit" so the novel's title could refer to Clara's childhood home and the big house on the corner. Other definitions of "spirit" are "the vital principle or animating force within living things" and "the state of a person's emotions"--so the title could also refer to the emotional forces within each person that move her through different times of life, whether happy or terrible.
It was a world in which time was not marked by calendars or watches and objects had a life of their own, in which apparitions sat at the table and conversed with human beings, the past and the future formed part of a single unit, and the reality of the present was a kaleidoscope of jumbled mirrors where everything and anything could happen.
"Prosaic" also means "not challenging; dull and lacking excitement"--this does not apply to Clara and her abilities, because she would take a prosaic material object and challenge herself to make it more exciting (e.g. playing Chopin on the piano while lid is still shut).
Clara lived in a universe of her own invention, protected from life’s inclement weather, where the prosaic truth of material objects mingled with the tumultuous reality of dreams and the laws of physics and logic did not always apply.
(followed by `to' or `of') lacking conscious awareness of
Clara was a vision in white Chantilly lace and natural camellias, as happy as a parrot after her nine years of silence, dancing with her fiance beneath the canopies and lanterns, completely oblivious to the warnings of the spirits that gestured desperately at her from the curtains, because in the tumult and whirl she could not see them.
The music stopped and the guests gathered in the main hall where a small, innocent priest, adorned with the vestments of high mass, read the complicated sermon he had written exalting confused and impracticable virtues.
Seated by her side in the narrow cabin, pressing cold compresses to her forehead and holding her while she vomited, he felt profoundly happy and desired her with unjust intensity, considering the wretched state to which she was reduced.
something that incites or provokes; a means of arousing or stirring to action
Seeing her with her wind-reddened nose, and laughing at the slightest provocation, Esteban swore that sooner or later she would come to love him as he needed to be loved, even if it meant he had to resort to extreme measures.
And Ferula, too busy in caring for the child, who had formidable lungs, an impulsive nature, and a voracious appetite, had no time to say the rosary in the slums or attend confession with Father Antonio, much less to peek through the half-open door.
"Resolute" also means "firm in purpose or belief"--this could describe the nature of a woman who goes "every Friday to the tenements in the Misericordia District to say the rosary for the poor, the atheists, the prostitutes, and the orphans, who threw garbage at her, dumped chamber pots onto her, and spat on her"; but the example sentence is using the adjective to describe how Ferula walks.
She was about forty-five years old then, and her splendid breeding and distant Moorish ancestors kept her looking fit and polished, with black, silky hair and a single white lock on her forehead, a strong and slender body and the resolute step of the healthy.
a feeling of profound respect for someone or something
"Veneration" also means "religious zeal; the willingness to serve God"--this definition applies to Ferula, and the example sentence's inclusion of the word "consecrate" ("dedicate to a deity by a vow" or "give entirely to a specific person, activity, or cause") supports the religious tone. But that would make Ferula a sinner, since as angelic as Clara might seem, she is still only a human.
Clara was the one in whom she confided her most subtle feelings, and to her she consecrated her enormous capacity for sacrifice and veneration.
In those days, the Christopher Columbus was flourishing, but it hadn’t yet acquired the international reputation it attained when it appeared on the navigational charts of the British shipping companies and in all the guidebooks, and when they showed it on television.
In that chaos of sheets and pillows, clasped in the living knot of desire, screwed into each other to the point of fainting, I felt I was twenty again, and happy to be holding in my arms this bold, swarthy woman who didn’t fall apart when you got on top of her, a strong mare you could ride on without giving it a second thought
Thanks to a photograph that showed the three of them around a table with a misty, winged ectoplasm flying overhead, which some unbelievers attributed to a stain from the developer and others to a simple photographic trick, they were the only people who possessed irrefutable proof that souls can take on physical form.
By way of a series of discreet inquiries, they managed to obtain her earthly address and arrived at her door with decks of cards impregnated with beneficent liquids, several sets of geometrical figures and mysterious tools of their own invention for unmasking fake parapsychologists, and a tray of ordinary pastries as a gift for Clara.
There was snow in the capital city, an unaccustomed spectacle that remained on the front page of all the newspapers, touted as a festive decoration, while in the impoverished shantytowns on the city’s outskirts the blue, frozen bodies of small children were discovered every morning.
Nicolas inherited the adventurous spirit of his great-uncle Marcos and his mother’s propensity for making up astrological charts and reading the future, but this did not constitute a major crime in the rigid code of the school, only an eccentricity, so he fared far better there than his brother.
enlightening or uplifting so as to encourage intellectual or moral improvement
They spent that summer reading among the rushes by the river, the pine trees in the forest, and the sprouting stalks of the wheatfields, discussing the virtues of Sinbad and Robin Hood, the bad luck of the Black Pirate, the true and edifying stories from the Treasury of Youth, the worst meanings of the words that did not appear in the dictionary of the Spanish Royal Academy
They shouted until they were hoarse, fought at the slightest provocation, and came to resemble two filthy little urchins with scabby knees and heads full of lice, replete with warm freshly picked fruit, sun, and freedom.
The burro continued nibbling grass with its burden of noisy pots and pans, while Blanca and Pedro Tercero slaked the accumulated hunger and thirst of the long months of silence and separation, rolling among the rocks and brush and moaning passionately.
He was also afraid he might recognize him and that Esteban Trueba would read it on his face, but he secretly rejoiced at the thought that his son was behind some of the unusual things that were taking place throughout the countryside.