Books on Spain -- Before your Travels
When you first look into the country of Spain to visit or to Live as an Expat your first response is the Medias glamorization of it. The woman, Sun, and historical tribulations are seen as the true Spain. I would suggest a possible different approach to learning about this wonderful country. This is a side of Spain that is never seen and often hushed about in corners. There are some books I have come across that are wonderful to read and also provide a glimpse into the less spoken side of Spain.
In the time line of events that surround Spain it really was not that long ago that Spain was divide by a violent civil war followed by years of facisist dictator rule. The leader of Spain General Franco died in the early 1970’s and it was not until his death that Spain actually became the great democracy it is today. Following some great Spanish authors we can get a feeling for what it was like to live in those dark times of Spanish history not that long ago.
'Guernica' by Dave Boling
There is a town in the northern regions of Spain. In the late 1930’s there was a violent bombing by Italian and German war planes and hundreds of residents died. This was one of the events in Spanish history that even inspired the great artist Pablo Picasso to create paintings of the event. It allowed him to bring attention to the brutal civil war brewing in the cauldron. This novel is based on one family and their lives the family of st Ansogegui. It starts out leading up to and during the devastating war itself. The author revels the internal struggle of each character as they try to come to terms with the war and conflicts surrounding them on their loved ones. This is a great piece of history in Spain and its people a must read for further intonation into the spirits of the Spaniards of the time.
'The Time of the Doves' by Merce Rodoreda
This story is a time capsule set in the capitol of Spain Barcelona. It is during and after the great civil war and it follows the life of a young woman. Because of all she has seen and bend through she must face her demons of depression and suffering. It is not those with a weak heart because it will make you cry. Yes even the men. Then when you get to Barcelona you can visit the La Placa Del Diamant, which is the crucial location of this tale of depression and survival.
'A Manuscript of Ashes' by Antonio Munoz Molina
This is a wonderful story set in the early 1960’s prior to the death of the fascist dictator. Minaya is the characters name and is a student at a major university. The student was demonstrating the chaos that is engulfing all of Spain and was thrown into prison for his role in the public demonstrations. He escapes and runs to the countryside where he tries to finish his thesis and becomes addicted to a story from the past. It’s a story of love, mystery, and the turmoil’s of a young man in touch with freedom during the dark years.
'Winter in Madrid' by C.J. Sansom
Winter in Madrid is a novel set in the capitol Madrid. There is a English men who arrives with orders from the English secret service to a spying mission on a old acquaintance. The time is set in the early 1940’s. Harry Brett the name of the Englishmen is soon engulfed in the politics and love of the Spanish post civil war.
'The Return' by Victoria Hislop
This is a unusual Novel set into the Spanish country side and a little complex to read in parts. But you will soon find yourself immersed into the story of past and present. It gives the story of a first person narrative of the civil war in the city of Granada. It shows how it puts brother against brother and family against family during the civil war. It gives a great account of a brave man in the historic city of Granada so reading this will allow you to get a nice in-depth look into a great city.
On your trip or move into the Spanish culture it will be a personal adventure. Having some guides into the understanding and authenticity of your location can be a great idea. It will allow you to see and experience things that most will not be able to even fathom. It will enhance your sense because you know what to look for but reading ht novels is a first step so take a look.
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