In Summertime I find that a good Spain book is the best way to while away the hot days.
So far this season I have managed to make good progress with quite a few books.
There are of course many summer days left still to enjoy until autumn arrives.
Three Spain Book Reviews
Here are three books which I read in July 2014. All three have a common theme, Granada, Spain. Each book has part of the story set in the city which I now call home. The genres of these titles are all varied and their themes, even so I enjoyed them all for very different reasons. I have also added a book which I sadly didn’t finish.
Flamenco Baby by Cherry Radford
Genre: Women´s fiction Pages: 396
In summer in Andalusia the temperatures are high and I was looking forward to an easy read. This Spain book had me hooked from page one as it was just that.
The protagonist Yolande moves in social circles with writers and dancers. The story is split between London and Granada. As a reader we are introduced to the world of Flamenco dancers and spanish guitarists. The prose is fast paced and certainly a page turner.
In the London setting Sadlers Wells provides the setting and in Granada it´s a Flamenco school in the Albaicin quarter where the story unfolds. The plot twists and turns throughout the book. Yolande is desperate to have a Flamenco baby. Sometimes I was unsure if we were in Granada or London but generally the pace of the story kept me very interested in the characters and that didn´t detract at all from the reading experience. I would say that this a great holiday read for a Spain holiday.
As I Walked Out Through Spain in Search of Laurie Lee by Paul Murphy
Genre: Travel writing Pages: 240
The book launch coincided with the author Laurie Lee´s centenary on 26th June 2014. This book has many references to Laurie Lee country, the village of Slad and the Cotswolds. Although this book is the author retracing Laurie Lee´s journey it is much more than that. If you enjoy literature and literati then you will enjoy this.
The writing is brave, to be so sincere and frank in a debut title is notable. Paul Murphy´s journey through Spain was made in 2012. As a reader we get observations of the Spanish towns and cities which Laurie Lee visited and insights into their history.
The combination of literature, history, travel and culture for me kept me interested throughout. At some points of the book I wondered why he was making the travel but I think the author may have been having similar thoughts himself too.
The conclusion of the book is in Granada and last pages are set in Almuñecar. This couldn´t have been better. (in my humble opinion) The descriptions of those locations were so familiar to me and was the perfect choice for the ending.
Here is another more in depth review for contrast: Spain Book Review by Caroline Angus Baker ´As I walked out through Spain..¨´
Spain book review
My review on goodreads.com
This book is winding, impatient, English, Spanish, magical, descriptive, sad, tranquil, and warm.
The story is set in the past but yet shows us the present and also looks to the future.
If you love Spain you must read it.
The Alhambra Fairy in her Palace by Brigida Gallego Coin
Genre: Childrens books Pages: 28
This book is written in Spanish and translated into english on the left side of the page. The story is about the Alhambra Fairy who lives inside the Alhambra palace of Granada, Spain. Throughout its pages the atmosphere of the palace is simply described. Other Andalusian places are featured such as the Torre de Oro in Seville and the Alpujarran villages of Granada and Almeria. Although the english isn´t 100% perfect it doesnt detract from the book. It´s a fun bilingual book for children.
The best bit are the colourful stickers in the back of the book with the different characters which appear in the story. It will suit younger children, it is just 28 pages long with a gentle story. It´s a Spain book perfect for a bedtime story.
In Granada this book is on sale in the Libreria de la Alhambra in Plaza Nueva and Palacio Carlos Quinto. You will also find it in other good book shops around the city or buy online at UltraMarina
A Book that I had to abandon
Whenever I begin a book I always want to give it at least the first 4 or 5 chapters before deciding if I am finding it too challenging. It is a disappointment to me if I have to abandon a book and quite rare. I usually plough on through challenging titles anyway. Occasionally I just don´t get it at all and this was the case of this title:
The Maid & the Queen
The Secret History of Joan of Arc & Yolande of Aragon by Nancy Goldstone
In 2013 I began reading this but I only managed to get to page 61 of the 320 pages in the book. I found it pretty heavy going. It was difficult for me to get into it. The characters didn’t seem to develop in my head, I didn’t have an emotional connection or feeling for them. It seems to flick from one character to another with little involvement with each one as a reader.
The title attracted my attention, it sounded thrilling from the description but it was uphill for me. I had no choice but to abandon it. I think that if you have a deep knowledge of history, this story may work. You will already know the characters and key events in detail, but for general readers (i.e me not studied a lot of history) it is a tough read.
Here is another review of that book that may provide another angle.