The action occurs in 19th century Spain, when a young liberal named Don José (Pepe) Rey, arrives in a cathedral city named Orbajosa, with the intention of marrying his cousin Rosario. This was a marriage of convenience arranged between Pepe's father Juan and Juan's sister, Perfecta.
Upon getting to know each other, Pepe and Rosario declare their eternal love, but in steps Don Inocencio, the cathedral canon, who meddles and obstructs the marriage as well as the good intentions of Doña Perfecta and her brother Don Juan. Over the course of time, several events lead up to a confrontation between Pepe Rey and his aunt Perfecta, which is caused by her refusal to allow Pepe and Rosario to marry, because Pepe is a non-believer. The novel ends up with the death of Pepe Rey due to his aunt Perfecta. Rosario, Perfecta's daughter and Pepe's love turns mad and ends up in a madhouse.
The novel illustrates the great power that the church wielded. It also describes the differences between the traditional, provincial outlook, and the modern, liberal outlook of Madrid, the capital.
Film, TV or theatrical adaptations
In 1977, the film version was written and directed by César Fernández Ardavín. Julia Gutiérrez Caba played Doña Perfecta. The cast included other important actors such as José Luis López Vázquez, Manuel Sierra, Victoria Abril, Emilio Gutiérrez Caba, Fernando Sancho and Mirta Miller.
- Doña Perfecta (bilingual e-book with Spanish and English versions side-by-side).
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