15 September 08

Three Novels That Touch on, or Skirt, War

My sister sent me, as a birthday present, a new novel by Geraldine Brooks, People of the Book. I had read Year of Wonders a while ago and loved her heroine who survives the plague and loss of her family and everyone she knew to end up in a place of unlikely redemption. My sister D. thought I’d like this new one because bookbinding and calligraphy and Spanish history are all part of the plot. She was right; the sequences of the book’s violent journey through history and Europe bracket each other like a book of hours, plus there’s a great gutsy Aussie heroine.

Some Spanish friends recently gave me a copy of Los Soldados de Salamina by Javier Cercas, which apparently was a bestseller in Spain in 2001 but which I’d never heard of. It recreates the story of a falangist (Spanish fascist) writer who faces, but improbably survives, a firing squad at the end of the Spanish Civil War and whose story is recreated by a journalist with writer’s block — the metaphors are as unsubtle as the people whose story is told — and to whom not all the facts are available. (Think Rashomon under Franco.) It was fun to read a novel in Spanish again, something I should try more often; if I read El Pais on Fridays I can start to make a list of thing that look interesting to me.

Finally, well back into the Brooks mode, I’m reading March, which is a fictional retelling of the absent father from Alcott’s Little Women, and which draws heavily on Bronson Alcott’s diaries and correspondence. This book is not about the American Civil War but the war is the backdrop.

Trying not to be too violent in my reading, here, but maybe there’s a lesson in all this…

Posted by at 07:54 PM in Books and Language | Link |
  1. Is it your birthday? Happy, happy birthday, dear Pica!!

    I’m intrigued by your description of March since L.M. Alcott was my favorite author for a long, long time when I was a child.

    Teresa    16. September 2008, 17:26    Link
  2. Teresa — the father in Little Women is hardly mentioned — he returns wounded and then disappears into his study. So far it’s great; I’m enjoying it a lot.

    Pica    16. September 2008, 17:54    Link
  3. I did notice when reading Little Women that the father wasn’t mentioned a whole lot. It’s been a long time since I read Little Men and Jo’s Boys, and I didn’t re-read them over and over as much as I did LW, so I’m not sure if the father was in either of the latter two very much either. I’ll definitely have to check out March!

    Teresa    17. September 2008, 15:48    Link

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