Cover Image: The Spanish Girl

The Spanish Girl

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

The story unfolds in dual time which I really liked as you can see how the characters develop and mature. 
We get to learn about the Spanish culture but we also go through the war and love and loss. 
Some characters are more likeable than others and some make you change your mind about them and thats one reasons why I loved this book.
Was this review helpful?
A dual timeline historical saga that alternates between 1937 and 1976, set in war torn Spain and a year after Francisco Franco died and his dictatorship ended. 

In 1937, Rafael Daguerre is seven years old, when during the Spanish Civil War he witnesses a shocking event, his young mind can’t process what’s happened and the consequences of the horrible act affects him and others for decades.  

In 1976, journalist Isabella Adame travels to Spain to interview Rafael Daguerre, she finds him rather cold and rude. Isabella has another reason for visiting, her mother Sofia was born in Spain and she wants to find out what happened to her during the Spanish civil War. Isabella was raised in France by her adopted grandparents Calida & Aurelio and they told her father was a French brigadier, he died during the battle of Brunete in 1937 and they don't know happened to her mother?

Isabella travels around Spain and slowly she uncovers the secrets and events of the past. It’s a tragic tale about a man hating both his wife and daughter, and a brother’s grudge against his own brother and who came to Spain to help him. After spending more time with Rafael, Isabella's feelings towards the grumpy Spaniard start to change and is he hiding something?

I received a copy of The Spanish Girl by Jules Hayes from NetGalley and the publisher Orion Dash in exchange for an honest review. After a slow start, I became engrossed in the narrative about love and loss and how the dignity, hope and humility of the Spanish people was shaken by years of war, dictatorship and terrorism. The story includes interesting information about Spanish culture, language and scenery, local customs, traditions and food, and four and a half stars from me.
Was this review helpful?
Heartbreaking at times never the less a gripping read!
Feisty journalist Isabella has never known the truth about her family. Escaping from a dangerous assignment in the turbulent Basque country, she finds her world turned upside down, firstly by her irresistible attraction to the mysterious Rafael, and then by a new clue to her own past.

As she begins to unravel the tangled story of her identity, Isabella uncovers a story of passion, betrayal and loss that reaches back to the dark days of Spain's civil war - when a passionate Spanish girl risked everything for her country, and for the young British rebel who captured her heart.

But can Isabella trust the man she's fallen in love with? Or are some wartime secrets better left undisturbed...?
Was this review helpful?
The setting of the Spanish Civil War attracted me to this novel because I know very little about it and I thought it would be a great human story to get my teeth into, while learning some background into a new piece of history for me. The book’s dual setting gave me chance to find out about the past, alongside the characters in 1976. The past section is set in the 1930’s and tells of a time where the side you were on wasn’t just important, but dangerous too. The author has made her characters as compelling as the history and the more attached I became to them, the more the history came to life. Isabella particularly, showed me what life at this time was like for women. She is looking for information about her mother and when she finds an investigative trail she has to follow it, because she wants to know what her mother’s role was in the civil war. Sofia’s story is full of determination. I thought the author recreated the war brilliantly, especially that sense of paranoia that comes from not knowing who you can trust. I think it’s a book that’s been marketed as a romance, but if packaged differently could have teacher a wider market. It was well researched and used strong characters to expose truths about this period of history
Was this review helpful?
Such an intriguing novel. I really loved reading about a different bit of modern european history and enjoyed seeing the stories unfold. I definitely want to read more from this author
Was this review helpful?
I very much enjoyed this well written historical fiction set in Spain. I don't know a great deal about the Spanish Civil war, but Hayes brought the two periods she was writing about to life, and gave a real sense of the tragedy and danger of the situations that the characters were in. You could tell how much research and attention to detail the author paid. I loved how the story of Sophia and her lover gradually unfolded and the characters were well drawn and true to life. The romance was beautifully written too. I will be looking out for more of this author's work.
Was this review helpful?
I'm so pleased I chose historic fiction as my theme for my holiday away in Spain. My second read is especially relevant as I've chosen Jules Hayes's The Spanish Girl, a historic novel spanning both the Spanish Civil War in the 30s and the death of Franco and subsequent rise of the Basque separatist movement in the 70s.

I initially believed that The Spanish Girl wasn't for me, incorrectly believing it to be a light romance novel. Granted, I'd sought out that exact genre due to suggestions from other readers on how to overcome my pandemic reading slump, but The Spanish Girl exceeded my expectations in every way.

The Spanish Girl begins in December 1937, at the height of the Spanish civil war, with a young boy witnessing the horrific murder of a mother and newborn baby. The reader is swiftly transported to Bilbao, Spain in May 1976 where journalist Isabella prepares to meet with a member of the Basque nationalist movement.

Isabella soon learns of an incredible personal connection between the people she is meeting and her own mother who disappeared before Isabella ever met her. Told through alternating timelines between the 30s and 70s, we learn of the full story of Isabella's parents and how she comes to learn about her own true history.

There is definitely romance in The Spanish Girl but if romance isn't really your thing (it's not really mine as a stand-alone genre) I believe that the epic story between these pages would appeal nonetheless.

This the the second novel I've read about Franco's Spain, the first being Ruta Sepetys's excellent historic novel The Fountains of Silence. Both novels have served to make me thirsty to learn more about Spain in the 20th century, which makes sense seeing as I spend so much time here.

The Spanish Girl is a rich and powerful novel, invoking the sights and aromas of Spain with vivid descriptions of its music, geography and food. The vibrancy and colour of this beautiful country is juxtaposed with the horror and violence of the Spanish civil war, fascism and terrorism, all of which is brought to life by Hayes's impressive research.

For bringing to life two pivotal moments in Spain's history, I give The Spanish Girl an excellent four out of five stars and recommend to lovers of historical fiction, especially non-WWII history. Don't get me wrong, I've read a lot of WWII history myself but steer towards non-fiction accounts of WWII lately.
Was this review helpful?
This book has me at feisty  journalist I am one or at least I think I am ;) 
Premise 
A country torn apart by war.
Two love stories divided by decades.
One chance to discover the truth...

Feisty journalist Isabella has never known the truth about her family. Escaping from a dangerous assignment in the turbulent Basque country, she finds her world turned upside down, firstly by her irresistible attraction to the mysterious Rafael, and then by a new clue to her own past.

As she begins to unravel the tangled story of her identity, Isabella uncovers a story of passion, betrayal and loss that reaches back to the dark days of Spain's civil war - when a passionate Spanish girl risked everything for her country, and for the young British rebel who captured her heart.

But can Isabella trust the man she's fallen in love with? Or are some wartime secrets better left undisturbed...?
I loved reading Isabellas journey to finding herself  and of course the mysterious Rafael made for some good reading. It is also a story of empowerment and I love that as well.
Was this review helpful?
Set over two time zones this is beautifully written and well researched. I enjoyed both the story and learning about Spain during this period in time. It was such a sad time but I loved the connection between the past and the present time in the story. I absolutey loved it
Was this review helpful?
A great historical fiction book set during the Spanish Civil War and Spain, shortly after Franco's death in 1976 and the time of the Basque Separatist movement, ETA. There are a lot of characters introduced at the start of the book and I was getting a bit confused but a few chapters in it was all clear and the beautifully written story emerged.  This book explored the horrors of war, the pain of loss and the joy of love.  

Briefly, Sofia is a teenager who is fighting for her country during the civil war.  Beautiful and brave she is interested in no man until a British man Jack, joins the cause. But the tribulations of war tear them apart and badly injured Jack is repatriated to England.  Meanwhile, unbeknownst to him Sofia continues the battle. 

Nearly forty years later, on an assignment in the Basque Country, journalist Isabella starts to unravel the mystery of her birth and her family.  She wants to know the truth about her mother, and her birth.  When she meets Raphael there is an attraction that she tries to ignore but soon they admit their feelings and from him, and his compatriots, Isabella learns more about her family. 

This is an epic story, written in dual timeline narrative, dealing with the political agenda, war, family, love, forgiveness and revenge.  The characterisations are excellent; the descriptions of the scenery and the culture of Spain as well as the history are totally on point. I felt like I was there with the freedom fighters.  This was a wonderful read and i give it 4.5⭐️

My thanks to the author, NetGalley and publishers Orion Dash for an e-copy ARC in exchange for an honest review
Was this review helpful?
This is a well researched dual time zone novel set in the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s and a “present day”  Spain of 1976. 
Isabella is a journalist writing about a Basque independence  group, active in the 1976 just after the death of General Franco. Whilst on assignment she meets Raphael and Miguel and discovers information about her own family background. Orphaned as a baby Isabella has never known her parents and she is shocked to discover she might have a father who is still alive.
Jack is an English Brigadier who goes to Spain in 1937, searching for his brother Joe and also keen to fight against Franco. He meets Sofia and in the midst of a terrible war they gradually fall in love.
The two time lines and the well drawn characters of this novel  effortlessly intertwine and each section is interesting, examining Spanish history in the two different periods.
There are romances in both sections although it becomes apparent early on that the Civil War love story will not have a happy ending.
The brutality of the war years was sad, particularly the fact that it was a civil war meaning that whole families were split by dint of choosing different sides.
It seemed that  in the 1970s most people did not want to contemplate what had happened in the 1930s, preferring to forget the horrors so that some of the cruellest perpetrators escaped prosecution  even after Franco’s demise. Unlike the many Nazis who were caught and tried by the allies after the Second World War, there was no one willing or able to deal with the Spanish Nationalist criminals. Too much time had passed and it would have to have come from within Spain itself.
I felt that I learnt a lot about Spanish history in an enjoyable historical read, so  much more interesting and enjoyable  than reading a factual book! I also discovered an author I had not read before and will definitely be looking out for any future novels.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for my arc in exchange for an honest review
Was this review helpful?
“Jack took in every detail, because he knew, before she had spoken, this was the woman he’d love.”

“The Spanish Girl” by Jules Hayes is the first I’ve read by this author (whose first book, “The Walls We Build”, was published in 2020), and the first as part of the Orion Dash Club. What a great place to start!

The novel is set across two time periods: 1937, against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War, and 1976, not long after the death of General Franco, leader of the Nationalists in that conflict, who were ultimately victorious in 1939. In 1976 we meet journalist Isabella, and it’s not long before she finds that the story she’s working on about the current political turmoil in Spain has roots in her own past, the mystery surrounding the fate of her mother Sofia, and the identity of her father. 

In 1937 we follow Jack - an idealistic young Englishman who travels to Spain to join up with the Republican fighters, and also to search for his brother Joe - missing following the Battle of Jarama and feared dead by his family and pregnant fiancée Alice. In Spain he meets a cast of memorable characters, including the eponymous Spanish girl, Sofia. What will be their fate in a world where the civil war is pitting brother against brother, friend against friend? And will Isabella be able to untangle the ramifications that are still playing out in the 70s, and finally get to the bottom of her own personal history?

As is generally the case for me, I find it far easier to connect with a period of history when reading fiction set at that time than I do reading non-fiction accounts, and Hayes does an excellent job of portraying the motivations and emotions of the characters caught up in such a complicated and turbulent period. The characters, particularly of Isabella, Sofia and Jack, really jumped off the page, with the author wonderfully conveying the depths of their emotions and their deeply held convictions about the conflict.

I found the structure of the book, moving between the time periods, to be very effective, revealing the plot layer by layer from the points of view of the various protagonists. The story encompasses so many themes - love of a partner, love of family, loss, loneliness, betrayal and loyalty. This is an excellent book, and one I’d highly recommend.

“The Spanish Girl” was released in the UK on 24th June 2021. Many thanks to NetGalley, Orion Dash and of course the author for providing an ebook copy.
Was this review helpful?
The Spanish Girl by Jules Hayes is an intriguing dual timeline novel, following journalist Isabella in 1976 and the eponymous and fascinating Sofia in the 1930s. As a journalist in post-war Europe, Isabella is used to searching for information but when she starts to dig into her own mysterious past, she begins to realise that someone is determined to stop her from learning the truth. As a passionate Republican, Sofia is used to taking risks, but when she falls in love with Englishman Jack, someone from her past is determined to destroy her new-found happiness.

The Spanish Girl is an engrossing and atmospheric read. Hayes does a wonderful job of bringing the setting to life; I could almost imagine that I was in the Spanish countryside, sleeping under the stars and listening to the flamenco guitar. I think her female characters are particularly well-drawn and realistic. I struggled to connect to her male characters in the same way but this might have been deliberate, as the title indicates, the Spanish Girl (or women) are key to the story. As an avid historical fiction reader, I already knew that Spain has had a troubled history but I think for many readers, the violence and turbulence of relatively recent Spanish history may come as a surprise. Many tourists are happy to enjoy the sunshine and sangria but don’t want to know about the history of the country that they visit. There’s a poignant scene where the main characters come to terms with a great loss while surrounded by tourists ‘with suncream smeared across pink faces’ which really highlights the wilful ignorance of many tourists to the region. Hayes also makes it quite clear that if we’re not careful, history will repeat itself and we’ll see similar tragedies play out again. In the 1970s, Spanish politicians wanted to bury the ugly parts of their recent history in order to appeal to the new tourist market. In the same way today, many countries don’t want to do anything which will damage their appeal to international visitors.

The romantic element of the story is captivating, particularly the 1930s story-line. Sofia is a wonderful romantic heroine: brave, beautiful and passionate. Isabella is more wary, and perhaps more realistic; slightly older and more experienced than Sofia. I think her cautious and tentative approach to love is something that many readers will be able to relate to. There are a few places where the phrasing is a little awkward, for example ‘a gentle carnal display’ ‘toughness cradled her voice’ which makes me wonder if Hayes was struggling to depict how these relationships, although formed hastily in the face of great adversity and danger, were still tender and loving. 

Overall this was a fun book that I would recommend as a holiday or beach read-especially as it might encourage tourists to look beyond the hotel walls and investigate the history of their holiday destination. This is the first book that I’ve read by Jules Hayes but I’d definitely willing to read more of her work.
Was this review helpful?