>Guernica by Dave Boling
Paperback: 368 pages
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: Picador 2009
Source: My sister-in-law.
First Sentence : Prologue (Guernica 1939)Justo Ansotegui returns to the market now to hear the language and to buy soap.
Review Quote : ‘Where Picasso’s painting so vividly captured the hellfire of the town’s destruction, this book fills in the humanity. The characters, the culture and the landscape are all lovingly described.’
My Opinion: One of my favourite reads this year.
Until I read this novel my only knowledge of ‘Guernica’ was as a place in the Basque region of Spain that had come under attack during the Spanish Civil War. I had also heard of Picasso’s painting of the same name, but had never looked at it closely. Although I have now done so online, it would be a moving experience to see it in reality, especially now I know more about the events behind the creation. I understand when reading historical fiction that fact and fiction are sometimes difficult to separate. So I enjoy the fact that reading a novel like this one, besides being a pleasure to read has also taught me something along the way.
The novel concentrates on the story of two Basque families related by marriage the Ansotegui’s and the Navarro’s. An extraordinary fictional tale of their family life from 1893 – 1940 with appearances by some real people from history. The story is woven around the characters Miguel Navarro and Miren Ansotegui, when the two of them meet they believe they have a love that nothing can destroy.
While reading this I felt thoroughly immersed in the surroundings and so connected with the characters that I felt their grief and happiness as if I knew them personally. This is truly a wonderful love story not just between individuals but a love of family, traditions and place, definitely one of my favourite reads this year.