Louis de Bernieres magical first novel.
When the spoilt and haughty Dona Constanza tries to divert a river to fill her swimming pool, she starts a running battle with the locals. The skirmishes are so severe that the Government dispatches a squadron of soliders led by the fat, brutal and stupid Figueras to deal with them. Despite visiting plagues of laughing fits and giant cats upn the troops, the villagers know that to escape the cruel and unusual tortures planned for them, they must run. Thus they plan to head for the mountains and start a new convivial civilsation.