Still a relatively young writer in 2017, María Laura Espido Freire (Bilbao, 1974; Wikipedia articles: English, Spanish = a lot more comprehensive), using only her last names as an author, has already written and published an impressive number of novels, short stories, essays, travel journals, children’s and juvenile literature and collective works as well as translations.
In 1999, Espido Freire became the youngest writer ever to win the well-endowed Planeta prize for her third novel, Melocotones helados [Frozen peaches], 336 p.
Elsa, a young painter, has seen herself forced to leave home after receiving death threats for which she doesn’t know the reason, and she moves to another city to leave with her grandfather. In this kind of exile that nobody wants to take seriously, Elsa enters the intricate human relations that she had neglected to concentrate on painting, and she enters the history of her own family, especially that of a cousin with whom she shares the forename and family names. This way she faces her own fragility, the errors, the mix of identities, the living a wrong life without knowing it. Is it possible that even when dying there are confusions?
In 2004 she published Querida Jane, querida Charlotte [Dear Jane, dear Charlotte], 250 p., another novel reflecting her interest in female protagonists, women writers.
Espido Freire hasn’t escaped either the fascination that the life and works of Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters still exercise over thousands of readers around the world. Fruit of this spell, there came up in her the desire to address the enigma that no scholar up to now has been able to resolve satisfactorily: how four single and poor women, autodidacts, with bad health, isolated in the countryside in a century that not precisely maximized their intellectual restlessness, who died before reaching age forty, managed to write a dozen of the best novels in Literature. The author decided then to set off on a journey into the imaginary and geographic world of Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters and this book is the diary of this endeavour.
This blogger was reminded to write about Espido Freire, when he saw 1) a magazine ad for a guided holiday tour to the England of Jane Austen and the Brontës in the company of Espido Freire, and 2) a recommendation for her latest juvenile novel, El chico de la flecha [The guy with the arrow], 2016, 240 p.
Marco is a boy like anybody we could meet today: intelligent, sensitive, with a lot of qualities and also a lot of fears. With twelve years he is at the age in which life changes for good; in which he leaves behind the child without responsibilities and begins to take steps in the way of the adults. His story and his worries could be those of any other adolescent, and his errors very similar. The only difference is that Marco lives in the first century AD in Emerita Augusta, today’s Mérida, a city in the Roman Hispania where free citizens live at the side of slaves, where the women live under tutelage of their families, and where society, though sophisticated, enjoys violent entertainment.
Marco, together with his friend Aselo, commits errors, learns to aks for help, and definitely does that which any other guy of his age: grow.
Espido Freire’s personal homepage is in Spanish and English and contains, among a lot of other elements, a picture gallery; her blog on WordPress is in Spanish and contains more pictures and links to her radio appearances, and to her Instagram and Facebook accounts, where she has got literally thousands of followers.
This blogger started reading Melocotones helados, but hasn’t been able to finish it yet. It is a quiet book with slow action, and there have been a lot of others that appeared more attractive…