It took me six weeks to read this book. I read for at least 45 minutes a day, more at the weekends and holidays. I am a fast reader. An average-length Dickens’ novel will take me two weeks at this rate. So full marks for this one for keeping me engaged all of the time. But gosh, it must be a hefty volume in hard copy. The sort that makes your wrist ache, particularly near the beginning and the end. Unfortunately I can’t find a translation of this though several of Julia Navarro’s works have been translated into English.
It is the story of Amelia Garoya, reconstructed by her great-grandson who is a journalist. So, we have the story of her life and the story of how he pieces together that life. It is exciting form beginning to end as she takes part in almost every drama of the 20th century: Spanish Civil War, the early days of Communist Russia, World War II, the Cold War and the falling of the Berlin wall. Alongside that she has her own personal journey: she loses her husband and child though her own actions but creates a compensation for this.
I never wanted to put this down but of course I had to: my own writing, my day job and the need to sleep and eat intervened. I was disappointed when I had finished. It’s often hard leaving characters that you have come to know. It was particularly difficult in this case.
This was yet another of those extraordinary books that took me out of my editing head. There are very few of these, even though I do enjoy others where that nagging voice remains. I’ll always give an author five stars if they manage this.