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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 TaylorSee all Editorial Reviews
The story was about something I knew nothing about. It was okay.Published 8 days ago by Judy Martin
I have seen the painting and images, but having the story behind the painting in such a poignant and personal way was unexpected.Published 20 days ago by Penelope Barron
My Spanish teacher recommended this to me because I expressed a desire to learn more about the bombing of innocent civilians in Guernica during the Spanish Civil War. Read morePublished 21 days ago by Bob Sanchez
Amazing tale! Beautifully written! I learned much from this story and now have added Basque Country to the top of the lust of places I must visit!Published 27 days ago by gerry foley
This is a story that needs to be told about a people who are little known to this present world - the Basque people.Published 1 month ago by Debbie Covey
This is an amazing work of historical fiction. While I had heard of the Basque region and people, I didn't understand their unique culture and way of living until I read this book... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Stacy Mccland
Guernica: A Novel is set in Guernica in the Basque Country of northern Spain from 1893 to 1940 (well before it received autonomous status in 1978). Read morePublished 3 months ago by Martina A. Nicolls
The novel clarifies the conflicting forces driving the Spanish Civil War. Sources were a combination of research and more familiar names. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Peter Ganyard/Nancy Ganyard