This is the story of two Basque families in Spain during the Spanish civil war – and of the infamous German bombing of civilians in Guernica, it’s repercussions in the two families, and of the famous mural painted by Picasso when he heard about the atrocities and suffering.
We learn in the prologue that Justo, once the town’s most celebrated citizens, is one armed and miserable two years after the bombing. This has the effect of giving the subsequent narrative a strong sense of foreboding, something I did not like. As the early section speeds through Justo’s youth, marriage, the birth and maturation of his daughter Miren and the birth of his granddaughter, giving us lovely vignettes of their strong bonds to family and country, I could not help but think of the prologue and what must happen to Justo’s family for him to be so alone.
After the inevitable happens on April 26, 1937, the novel shifts focus slightly to include a British couple who help displaced Basque children and a group of people who smuggle goods and people from Nazi occupied France into Spain.
Justo, Miren, and a blind girl named Alaia whom Miren befriends are standout characters here and it’s alone worth reading the novel just to spend time with them. Though I was really ready to chuck the book at a wall after the bombing, I am glad I stuck with it to the end (which was satisfying despite being obvious to me and based on a huge coincidence).
Guernica is now out in hardcover. This is my second (and last) review that qualifies for the LT Author Challenge hosted by Dawn at She’s Too Fond of Books.