Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Read Your Way Around the World - Historical Spain

Read Your Way Around the World invites you to explore Spain throughout history. From the Inquisition to the Spanish Civil War, Spain has had a turbulent history which has inspired romantic and suspenseful novels including theses books set in a variety of time periods throughout Spain's colourful past.

Midnight in Europe by Alan Furst is a romantic and suspenseful story set during the Spanish Civil War. Spaniard Cristian Ferrar is a lawyer in a Parisian office who is approached to work with a secret agency which is supplying arms to the Republic's army. Ferrar joins up with a diverse group of like-minded people in this richly detailed work of historical fiction.

The Inquisitor's Wife: a novel of Renaissance Spain by Jeanne Kalogridis features Marisol Garcia, who in 1481 during the Spanish Inquisition, is a conversa - a Jew who has  been pressured to convert to the Catholic faith - who, despite being married to a Catholic lawyer, secretly practices her Jewish faith. A friendship develops with Queen Isabella and Marisol struggles to protect her former lover.

On a train bound for Barcelona Helen has her consciousness raised by a German athlete in Savage Coast by Muriel Rukeyser. This autobiographical novel was written back in the 1930s and was inspired by Rukeyser's own journey to Spain in 1936 as a journalist to cover the People's Olympiad. Of interest to feminist readers and fans of war narratives.

Matadora by Elizabeth Ruth features Luna Caballero Garcia, a poor servant, who attempts to make her name as a bullfighter during the 1930s when it was illegal for a woman to do so. He story is told against the backdrop of fascism and war with compelling characters and an intriguing social history.

In the long running Sharpe Series, Richard Sharpe waits expectantly on the eve of the Battle of Vitoria in Sharpe's Honour: Richard Sharpe and the Vitoria Campaign, February to June 1813 by Bernard Cornwell. There is a duel, Sharpe is framed for murder, he is captured and tortured, and a treacherous woman is at the center of all this trouble. Gritty, suspenseful and fastpaced like all the volumes in this always popular series.

The Queen's Vow: a novel of Isabella of Castille by C.W. Gortner is a fictional biography of the rise to power and the rule of Spain's controversial ruler. From 1464 to 1492 during reign marked by war, Isabella proves her independence by choosing her own husband, protecting her country from outside threats and lauching Columbus on his voyage of discovery of the New World. A great choice for fans of historical fiction looking for a dramatic and absorbing read.

Real life Lola Montez is the subject of the fictional Whip Smart: Lola Montez conquers the Spaniards by Kit Brennan. Desperate to escape London, Montez accepts a commission to spy, working undercover as a musical dancer. In melodramatic fashion, Montez falls in love with her target and becomes a double agent. Historical, romantic, swashbuckling and just plain exciting. Guaranteed to make you want to find out more about Lola Montez.

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