The short story “Trio for Four Voices” by Jane McLaughlin is set in a hotel in Spain, somewhere between Malaga and Arcos, and close to Gaucin. All these are locations in Andalusia, a region in the south of Spain. The story is set in modern times, as indicated by the narrator mentioning the internet (l. 58). The events take place over the course of several days.
The narrator mentions “the most beautiful road in Europe” (l. 55). This is most likely a reference to the White Villages Route in Andalusia. To the narrator, the place is both beautiful and frightening and she mentions the “fantastic valleys” (l. 57) and the “steep ascents and descents” (l. 56). In the mind of the narrator, the road is “everything I had hoped” (l. 60). The road, however, turns out to be a disappointment in a way, since it seems to lead the narrator “into the mind of a demented child” (ll. 60-61).
Influenced by Amelia’s words, the narrator comes to see the landscape as that of a wild place, beyond conventional rules, where anything can happen:
I see the vertical walls of rock, the rippling waters of the swimming pool, failed brakes on one of the hairpins, the sound of the shotguns in the clay pigeon ...