Sometimes I feel like the longer I live in Spain, the more it confuses me. Certain behaviours become more apparent the longer I am here, which raises some rather baffling questions. Questions such as: Why do Valencians shout ALL the time? Why are there road markings and traffic lights in Spain, when drivers clearly view them as merely decorative objects? And why do people live piled on top of each other in cities full of apartment blocks when Spain has waaaaay more space for houses than The UK does?
To try and solve some of these mysteries, I have read or dipped into various books written about Spain. The Return is a gripping historical novel set between present day and Spanish Civil War Granada. This was a real eye opener for me about some of the horrific occurrences in 1930s Spain. The Ghosts of Spain is non-fiction, a cultural and historical account of this unique country. I’ve only been able to dip in and out of the lighter chapters of this one, but it’s given me a better understanding of some cultural norms.
Finally, The Shadow of the Wind…Well, this is pure art. Such a blend of genres: historical fiction, gothic, romance. Totally gripping, the plot and the dark, mysterious vibe kept me up at night!
Sometimes I find it hard to read historical fiction set around wars. It’s hard to believe the atrocities that humans are capable of. But historical fiction as well as non-fiction are vital in telling the stories of how humanity can be found in even the darkest hours, as well how these experiences shape a country and its culture. Spain’s recent history is tragically fascinating; perhaps that is why it is such a country of contrasts and contradictions. I don’t think I’ll ever work it out, but books are certainly providing me with some insight!