From Publishers Weekly
Examining the Spanish Civil War and the town that was famously firebombed by the Germans on the eve of WWII, this multigenerational family saga begins with the three abandoned Ansotegui boys, struggling to survive on the family farm at the end of the 19th century; younger brothers Josepe and Xabier become a fisherman and a priest, respectively, while the eldest, Justo, marries and raises a stunning daughter named Miriam. Charismatic, beautiful and the best jota dancer around, Miriam attracts the attention of Miguel Navarro, who winds up moving them to ill-fated Guernica after a run-in with the Spanish Civil Guard. Meanwhile, in nearby Bilbao, Father Xabier waxes political with real-life future Basque president José Antonio Aguirre, striking up an invaluable friendship. Boling's portrait of the Guernica tragedy is vivid, as is his illustration of the Basque people's oppression; wisely, he sidesteps elaborate political explanations that could slow the family drama. Boling is skillful with characters and dialogue, possessing a great sense of timing and humor, though some historical cameos feel forced (especially Picasso, who pops up throughout), and some plot twists can be seen from quite a long way off. (Sept.)
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A family saga set against the destruction of the Basque town of Guernica in 1937, Boling’s debut follows the Ansotegui clan: eldest son Justo works a farm; middle son Josepe fishes; and youngest son Father Xabier tends to parishioners in nearby Bilbao. Vignettes of their youths glimpse their settling into their vocations, while scenes of Justo’s marriage to Mariangeles give way to the story of their dance-loving daughter, Miren. Her warmth and twirling skirt snare the marital attention of Miguel Navarro, and they, their own daughter, Catalina, and other Ansoteguis find themselves subjected to the maelstrom depicted in Pablo Picasso’s frantic artistic indictment of Guernica. (Boling grants cameo scenes to Picasso and the German air commander.) Mutually devastated by the apparent deaths of their wives and daughters, Justo and son-in-law Miguel improve their previously tense relationship, while author Boling cultivates a subplot with a somewhat melodramatic but definitely Lazarus-like conclusion that restores some happiness to the family. Enhanced by Boling’s knowledge of Basque culture, this is a convincing fictionalization of an infamous act of war. --Gilbert Taylor