This novel opens with three boys, who have lived mainly on their own since their mother’s death and their father’s virtual abandonment of them. Justo is the oldest son, clearly destined to take on the farm; next come Josepe and Xabier, who must seek vocations elsewhere. The novel follows each branch of the family and their children in the lead-up and aftermath to the extremely devastating and destructive bombing of Guernica in 1937 by the Nazis.
This book reminded me a lot of Gabriel Garcia Marquez without the “magical realism”. It had very much the same feel to it, perhaps due to the similar cultures described. I felt there was something to the style of the love story that felt like Love in the Time of Cholera. I liked it, but it isn’t a style that I can fall in love with. The prose seems almost distant to me, and thus disappointing. I prefer to feel that I can really get into the characters’ heads.
The story, however, is a good one. I really liked how Boling even gave Picasso segments, as he was the one who painted the tragedy and helped make it so well-known. For some reason, I loved Charles and Annie, the English couple, and I really appreciated how the storylines came together at the end. Guernica is extremely well-plotted, and everything that I was wondering about came full-circle by the time I closed the book.
I’d recommend this to anyone interested in learning about this bit of Spanish history through a fictional lens. Guernica will be released September 2nd (next Tuesday!). You can preorder this book on Amazon.