Snippet: A Civil War love story

Sonsoles Ónega, Después del amor [After love], 2017, 592 p.

Fernando Lara novel prize 2017

Publisher’s summary:

An unforgettable story of secret love that crossed a war and overcame all social barriers.

Carme travelled by train from Barcelona when an exchange of glances changed her life forever. It was 1933 and Frederic Escofet and Carmen Trilla –he an army captain; her a wife trapped in an unhappy marriage– wove a love story that neither gossip, nor the Spanish Civil War, nor exile were able to destroy, but that left in Carmen’s three children the trace of uprooting.

Based on real facts, Sonsoles Ónega puts into the format of a novel the story of a brave woman who reconstructed her identity in a Spain where women were not allowed to love and stop loving. An unforgettable story of secret love whose protagonists had to face all kinds of social conventionalisms.


Xavi Ayén cites the author in an article on the book. “I wanted to concentrate on her, Carmen Trilla, known for her elegance and beauty as the ‘Greta Garbo of Barcelona’ in the 1930s,” and who reveals herself as a Madame Bovary with the courage to finally leave her husband and be at the side of the man whom she really loved.” Ayén writes that Escofet’s biograph left out Trilla because his subject wanted to spare his first wife the disgrace. The same biographer, Xavier Febrés, gave Ónega access to his material in which Escofet himself explained the love story. Ayén says that many readers will think that Ónega exaggerates but the author maintains that she lessened the intensity. “Feelings are the prime material of the novel.” The bad guy of the story is Trilla’s husband. For background information on the epoch, Barcelona’s social life, etc. Ónega used La Vanguardia‘s newspaper archive. According to Ayén, the novel has got “all the elements of a bestseller and presents different registers, i.e. that of the romantic, adventure, costumbrista or historic novel.”

Sonsoles Ónega (Madrid, 1977) is a parliament reporter for Telecinco, a private TV station that belongs to the Berlusconi Mediaset group. This is her fifth published novel.

This blogger is cautious with novels that are publicized as “unforgettable” and possible bestsellers; and he doesn’t like Telecinco

SOURCE: Planeta (publisher), Xavi Ayén in La Vanguardia, June 17, 2017, p. 43 [printed edition]

Snippet: Carmen Posada’s “Cayetana’s daughter”

Carmen Posadas, La hija de Cayetana [The duchess’s daughter], 2016, 520 p.

Publisher’s summary:

An amazing and forgotten episode protagonized by one of the most famous women in our History: Cayetana de Alba, the unforgettable muse of Goya.

Eccentric, capricious and free, for more than two hundred years her power of seduction has endured unalterable. But very few know that the duchess adopted a black girl, María Luz, whom she loved and educated as her own daughter and to whom she bequeathed part of her fortune.

Carmen Posadas narrates with a master’s hand the fate of the two mothers: the adoptive one with her loves and dramas at Carlos IV’s court, an authentic nest of intrigue, and that of the biological one, Trinidad, who, as a slave in Spain, fights to find the baby that was taken from her shortly after giving birth.

Posadas presents interesting places (Cuba, Madrid, Sevilla, Cádiz, Madeira and the Coto de Doñana (reserve) and a lot of palace politics, art, and social history: how people lived at the end of the 18th and in the early 19th century, the French Revolution seen from afar, violence as part of daily life, especially for poor women, and the impotence of rich and poor alike in front of epidemics and death. At the end of the book, the author explains that she stuck to the facts wherever possible, i.e. mainly with reference to the life of the duchess and the painter Goya. This blogger didn’t know that there lived slaves in the Iberian peninsula in the 18th century – mostly as luxury objects to show off with, though this didn’t improve the way they were treated/abused. He enjoyed the book, except for the excessive descriptions of dresses and hairstyles…

More information on the Uruguayan-Spanish author Carmen Posadas (Montevideo, 1953) who has lived most of her life in Spain can be found at the Wikipedia, though the bibliography is incomplete in the English article. Also on the house of Alba. offers her novels Child’s Play, The Last Resort, and Little Indiscretions in English.

SOURCE: Planeta (publisher)

Snippet: Varela’s “Eugenio d’Ors” (biography)

Eugenio d'ors 1881-1954 (p. Gaziel 2016) - Javier Varela Tortajada

Javier Varela, Eugenio D’Ors, 1881-1954, 2017, 576 p.

Gaziel biography and memoirs prize 2016 [video of the award ceremony (Spanish)]

publisher’s summary:

During the course of his life, Eugenio d’Ors, aka Xenius, was a Catalan nationalist, trade unionist, monarchist, and finally a falangista [Spanish fascist; cf. Wikipedia]. He also was an extraordinary intellectual, art critic, patient writer of an extensive “Glossary” in Catalan and in Spanish, and definitely one of the most interesting authors of Spain during the first half of the 20th century.

Such a relevant, complex figure, full of contrasts, needed a biography that examined in unitary form all of his facets. In an exhaustive and never complacent manner, Eugenio d’Ors (1881-1953) brings to light the brilliant and original writer, the formidable creator of aphorisms, the politically changing man, to claim his real importance in the Catalan, Spanish and European context of the past century.

excerpts from a review by Adolfo Sotelo Vázquez:

A splendid intellectual biography

Javier Varela (Madrid, 1952) is a distinguished scholar of Spanish political thought…

This dense… biography is written like an erudite story with an ambition to style. A style characterized by fluency and rhythm… the biography is attractive, elegant and at the same time solid… It is an intellectual biography because it narrates the life of the writer but also the moral, aesthetic and political map that surrounds him in Catalonia, Spain, and Europe.

… Varela sintethizes in a masterful way the influence of Maurras in Catalonia… and he points out the creative translation of Maurras’ set of ideas undertaken by d’Ors in Catalonia. The author studies rigorously the écritures du jour [daily columns] that d’Ors produced during more than 15 years for the Barcelona press. … The works of the years 1906 and 1907 “throb” with the ethical and aesthetic principles of the Noucentisme [movement], … the qualities of willingness, proportion and balance.

During the second decade of the 20th century d’Ors practised a kind of “intellectual dictatorship” in Barcelona: apart from his newspaper contributions, he was secretary of the Institut d’Estudis Catalans [Institute of Catalan Studies], a teacher at the Escola de Bibliotecàries [female librarians’ school], director of the Quaderns d’Estudi [study notes; probably a magazine], director of the Seminari de Filosofia i Psicologia [Philology and Psychology Seminary], …

Hi rich and polemic personality, his extraordinary culture and his enormous capacity for daily work, materialized in an ocean of journalistic contributions (“a highly intelligent commentator of the evanescent present,” in a precise phrase by Varela). And also his eagerness to demonstrate his virtues as a writer in Catalan and in Spanish. D’Ors lived with his dandyism, his vanity, his cinicism, with his intellectual arrogance. These were the aspects of his masks.

This blogger read some of d’Ors’ early 20th century articles and was impressed by his culture and his beautiful style in Catalan, in quality very similar to the prose by Josep Pla.

SOURCE: RBA (publisher); review in “Cultura/s,” La Vanguardia, May 27, 2017, pp. 4-5 [printed edition]

Snippet: Montesinos on Thoreau

Toni Montesinos, El triunfo de los principios: cómo vivir con Thoreau [The triumph of principles: how to live with Thoreau], 2017, 552 p.

publisher’s summary:

Henry David Thoreau is often associated with civil disobedience, in a context of the fight against slavery and the war in a United States that was still in formation, and with the attraction that he felt for the life of the Native Americans. But the truth is that this observer of nature and of human behavior touched in his day all that which is important for us today. In Walden, but also in his other books, diaries and letters, he spoke from an autobiographic perspective on friendship, love, economics, education, politics, religion, social hypocrisy… Always settling on firm ideas and practicing austerity, trusting in his senses and intution, with the willingness to make his present something transcendental.

El triunfo de los principios is a biography of Thoreau and at the same time a tour through his reflections and experiences, a questioning of our actual life from that lived in the middle of the 19th century in a small village in Massachusetts, Concord, where also resided Emerson, Hawthorne and L.M. Alcott. The intelligence and beauty of his writings, in which stand out the ironic or convincing tone on his fellow citizens, his faith in self-confidence, in goodness as the best investment, in the elimination of self-imposed necessities, will suggest to us to understand, to say it with his words, the essence of life, and make of carpe diem, sincerity and simplicity a lighthouse of behavior and daily thinking.

Toni Montesinos (Barcelona, 1972) is a writer and literary critic.

The Wikipedia has got this article on Henry David Thoreau whose 200th birthday is on July 12, 2017.

SOURCE: Ariel (Planeta, publisher)

Snippet: novel about the journalist Sofía Casanova

Inés Martín Rodrigo, Azules son las horas [Blue are the hours], 2016, 300 p.

The publisher offers a summary in English on their foreign rights pages.

The review by Carles Barba informs that a century ago Sofía Casanova was a reporter for ABC newspaper, and during 21 years she sent around 800 articles from Eastern Europe for publication in Spain. One of her main topics was the suffering of the civilians in times of war. She even managed to interview Trotsky. “Conservative, catholic, monarchic, in 1937 she let herself manipulate by the Nationals [rebels] and interviewed Franco in Burgos.” Which explains in part why she has become forgotten. She later observed the Nazi invasion of Poland and reported on the German barbarity to Germanophile Spanish newspapers. Barba recommends this book.

The author, Inés Martín Rodrigo (Madrid, 1983) is a journalist, head of the Books section of ABC newspaper.

SOURCE: Planeta (publisher); review in “Cultura/s,” La Vanguardia, March 19, 2016, p. 10 [printed edition]

Carme Riera’s “Last words”

Carme Riera, Les darreres paraules [Last words], 2016, 176 p.

BBVA Sant Jordi prize 2016 for Catalan literature (35,000 EUR)

Publisher’s summary:

Carme Riera novelizes the life of a free, exciting and adventerous character: the archduke Ludwig Salvator of Austria.

In a discovered manuscript, Ludwig Salvator of Habsburg-Lorraine (Florence, Tuscany 1847 – Bohemia, Austria-Hungary 1915) confesses the secrets of his love relationships, some of them tragic, and he presents personal but objective points of view on the events that changed the map of Europe of the 20th century, from Meyerling to Sarajevo. Cousin of the emperor Francis Joseph and the empress Elizabeth, the famous Sissi, maybe he could have prevented the unleashing of World War I.

An unrepentant and mysterious traveler, a man of letters, naturalist and ecologist avant la lettre, the archduke was also in love with Majorca. On the island he built his small paradise kingdom.

Les darreres paraules reveals through alledged memories the family, love and political experiences of an extraordinary person who, even though he belonged to Europe’s most important imperial family, lived far from conventionalisms.


One can consider the advertising’s sentence on a possible influence on the politics before World War I as pure marketing, cf. e.g. Christopher Clark’s The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War. Nevertheless the archduke has fascinated this blogger ever since he read of the 2015 exhibition held in Majorca to commemorate the centenary of the archduke’s death. The curator of that exhibition was no other than this novel’s author…

The Wikipedia has got a short article in English on the archduke, more extensive in other languages.

More on the writer and academic Carme Riera (Palma de Mallorca, 1948) can the found in the Wikipedia article and a biography page of the Catalan writers’ association.

SOURCE: Grup 62 (publisher); Vilaweb, June 20, 2016

Snippet: Roser Rosés, a “girl of Russia”

Trenes Tallades. Record d'una

Roser Rosés, Trenes tallades. Records d’una “nena de Rússia” [The cut braids: memories of a “girl of Russia”], 2016, 199 p.

Publisher’s summary:

Trenes tallades… is the moving story of Roser Rosés’ years of forced exile, a 12 year old girl who in 1938 was sent by her parents to the USSR to protect her from the devastations of the Spanish Civil War, and who returned in 1947 converted into a woman with a sensibility and a formation that were incompatible with Franco’s Spain. It’s the lucid, tender and intense story of a childhood and adolescence marked by wars that took many years before it could be explained.

“There were left behind in the USSR seven and a half years of my life, seven and half years of unimaginable experiences over 12,000 km of displacements and dangerous evacuations that I had to undergo due to the damned war; there were left a part of my childhood and all of my adolescence, in a stay that had become a lot longer than anybody had foreseen, in this immense country. I took with me some studies, some happiness – little – and a lot of misfortune. And the sensation of feeling strong and fortunate to have survived it all.”


SOURCE: Cal·lígraf (publisher)