Original Story That Did NOT Quite Live Up to Its Potential.
Four stars seems a bit generous. Think 3.5 instead.
There are so many possibilities in this story. It’s original, unlike any other book I’ve read. It’s historical and I usually love that. And it offers characters varied enough that there’s something here for everyone.
The setting is Spain, post World War II. Rose, a British veterinarian with an expertise in herbal remedies, has taken a leave of absence to find out what happened to her lost brother, Nathan, who left home eight years earlier to fight in the Spanish Civil War. And hopefully to find his lover and their child.
Rose meets Lola, a talented Roma dancer who dreams of going to Madrid to be in the movies.
Nieve is Lola’s young daughter, rescued by Lola after her parents were killed in the massacre of a small town during Spain’s Civil War (1936-9).
Lola happens to have a good-looking brother and of course, Rose becomes very attracted to him.
There’s Zoltan, a helpful Hungarian living in a remote area, but keeping secrets of his own.
And an old woman named Maria, who some believe is a witch, who remembers everyone’s secret history and has lots of knowledge about herbal remedies.
As the drama unfolds, and there’s a lot that happens, we learn a bit about the brutality of the Spanish Civil War and its lasting effects on rural communities. A bit of Roma culture creeps in, along with the associated prejudices that were common at the time. And there are references to the recent Holocaust where so many of Rose’s relatives perished.
But somehow, I did not find myself very emotionally involved with anyone, even when dangerous and life-threatening events occurred. It’s well-written and I certainly wanted to see how the plot would resolve, and what would happen to all the characters. But I didn’t feel much for any of them. And I’m not sure why.
If you read this book and you figure out why that might be, please let me know by leaving a comment.
More about the British author, Lindsay Jayne Ashford, a former BBC journalist who has written some well-known crime novels.