Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for The Spanish Girl by Jules Hayes. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour and to Orion Dash for my digital review copy via NetGalley.
About the Book
A country torn apart by war. Two love stories divided by decades. One chance to discover the truth…
Feisty journalist Isabella has never known the truth about her family. Escaping from a dangerous assignment in the turbulent Basque country, she finds her world turned upside down, firstly by her irresistible attraction to the mysterious Rafael, and then by a new clue to her own past.
As she begins to unravel the tangled story of her identity, Isabella uncovers a story of passion, betrayal and loss that reaches back to the dark days of Spain’s civil war – when a passionate Spanish girl risked everything for her country, and for the young British rebel who captured her heart.
But can Isabella trust the man she’s fallen in love with? Or are some wartime secrets better left undisturbed…?
Format: ebook Publisher: Orion Dash
Publication date: 15th March 2021 Genre: Historical Fiction
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I very much enjoyed Jules Hayes’ previous book, The Walls We Build, so I was delighted to be offered the chance to read her latest novel, The Spanish Girl. If you’ve been following the blog tour, you’ll know it’s been getting enthusiastic reviews from readers.
The book opens in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War with a dramatic prologue in which a young boy witnesses a shocking event that will have consequences for decades to come. It’s then fast forward to May 1976 and Franco’s Spain as journalist Isabella Adame travels to interview Rafael Daguerre, a prominent Basque separatist. Initially, Isabella finds Rafael rude, arrogant and obstinately self-assured but, as we learned from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, first impressions are not always accurate – or are they?
Isabella’s role as a campaigning journalist is seeking answers to questions and trying to discover the truth so it’s ironic that she’s living with so many unanswered questions about her own life, such as the mystery surrounding the disappearance of her birth mother, Sofia, and the identity of her father. It’s resulted in Isabella becoming rather guarded, with few friends and a life which has become, in her own words, a ‘monotone mosaic’. The only people who mean anything to her are Calida and Aurelio who adopted her when she was a baby, fleeing from Spain to France during the height of the Civil War. For all these reasons, it’s not surprising that she is intrigued when Rafael reveals a link to her mother. From that point on, the book alternates between Isabella’s search for the truth and events during the Spanish Civil War.
As the story unfolds, the reader is immersed in the complex politics and history of Spain both during the Civil War through the introduction of another storyline which will see a rivalry develop that will ultimately split a family, and later through events during the Franco regime. Indeed, the author has her characters witness dramatic events such as the notorious bombing of the city of Guernica that left many dead and had a lasting impact on the people of Spain. “The hostility that existed all over Spain, between families that had once lived peacefully together, and friends who couldn’t trust each other anymore.”
As a counterbalance to the horror, throughout the book the author uses opportunities to evoke the spirit of Spain – its culture, food, landscape and music. A scene that stood out for me was Isabella, inspired by traditional guitar playing, performing flamenco during which she feels ‘nothing existed only the thumping beat, the raw energy, the infinity of music’.
I can’t say much more about how the story unfolds for fear of spoilers, except that I’m not sure I could be as forgiving as Isabella is to some of the characters when the truth of what they knew – and when – is finally revealed. Isabella’s story exposes the guilt that can linger for things done or not done, the burning desire for answers and the need to belong.
The Spanish Girl is an absorbing story of secrets and lies, love, loss and betrayal.
In three words: Dramatic, intriguing, emotional
Try something similar: The Garden of Angels by David Hewson
About the Author
Jules writes: “I have a degree in modern history and I’m fascinated with events from the first half of the 20th century, which is the time period my historical fiction is set. My work has been longlisted in the Mslexia Novel Competition, and shortlisted in the prestigious Bridport Short Story Competition. I live in Berkshire, UK with my partner, daughter and dog. Before writing stories, I was a physiotherapist.”
Jules Hayes is a pseudonym for J A Corrigan who writes contemporary thrillers. Falling Suns by J A Corrigan (Headline Accent) was published in 2016.