Guernica By Dave Boling.
An epic novel already compared to Captain Corelli's Mandolin and The English Patient, set in the Basque town of Guernica at the time of its destruction by the Luftwaffe on the eve of World War II.
In 1935, Miguel Navorra finds himself in conflict with the Spanish Civil Guard and flees the fishing village of Lekeitio to make a new start in Guernica, the centre of Basque culture and tradition. Once there, he finds more than just a new life - he finds someone to live for. Miren Ansotegui is the charismatic and graceful dancer he meets and the two discover a love they believe nothing can destroy...
Rich in the history of the region, the Red Baron, the Luftwaffe and even Picasso make appearances in Guernica as the fate of the Navarro family is traced through the early decades of the twentieth century.
... From the back cover.
FIRST SENTENCE: Justo Ansotegui returns to the market to hear the language and to buy soap.
A first time novel, GUERNICA is well written, poignant and rich in history - a story full of tradition, customs, love, loyalty and passion in which the reader can have difficulty telling fact from historical fiction.
Set largely in the Basque town though later events take place in England, the story begins with the exploits of three small boys, Justo, the eldest brother who, along with the youngest brother, Xabier plays a major role in the book, unlike middle brother, Josepe, who plays a much less evident role.
It is the story of Justo's family that takes the book through what are fairly peaceful times to the advance of Fascism and Civil War to the tragic events of the Second World War. Descriptive and, at times, very harrowing, the book, though set in times when poverty and oppression were rife, is nonetheless full of love, humour and hope.
On the whole a very good read though, at times, the author seems to lose himself and strays from the plot. Then there are also some additions that seem, somehow, pointless and beg the question why were they added. And, finally there is the somewhat contrived and highly improbable ending. The author, however, is forgiven all of these as he has the reader grasped in the story and his characters are so warm and giving that you can't help but want good things for them.
MY RATING: 4 out of a possible 5.