Thursday, 25 October 2018

The Ever-Expanding TBR Pile

It's been a while since I wrote on here; I'm going to claim that it's because I know you all have as large a TBR pile as I, and don't have time to read weekly blatherings from yours truly.

But speaking of the toppling TBR pile, I've just finished a book that is likely to add, indirectly, to the pile.

Lucia Graves is the daughter of Robert Graves, well-known poet and author of such books as I, Claudius, and she grew up largely in Spain, particularly Mallorca and Barcelona. Her memoir, A Woman Unknown, is beautifully constructed, weaving past and present, but also detailing much of life in Spain beyond her own personal experience.

When I was preparing for Carmen - The Musical, I found out considerably more about the Spanish Civil War than I had previously known, but only from the point of view of its beginnings and early encounters. Graves' book describes the effect on the people, particularly the losers, of Franco's regime, and (briefly) their ultimate emotional release on his death. More reading to be done on this topic.

She also mentions a queen of Catalonia, Margarida of Prades, who sounds as though she must have been the Spanish equivalent of Eleanor of Aquitaine, though there is much more detail about her in Graves' book than in the wikipedia entry for her, though to be fair it does acknowledge that the equivalent articles in Spanish or Catalan will extend the entry. An interesting woman, about whom I feel I need to discover more. More books needed.

And a final topic of particular interest to me, given the novel that I've been writing for some years about a survivor of the Jewish massacre in York in 1191, was the detail that 1492 was not only the year Columbus 'discovered' America (and that's a *whole* other blog entry!), but also the year in which Jews had to either leave Spain or convert to Christianity. I knew they had faced the dilemma, but hadn't realised the coincidence of the date. When I get back to my historical novel (the current one is very nearly ready to be released into the big wild world), I will doubtless need to do some reading about the experience of the Spanish Jews.

So that pile that I had diminished by a whole book? It's just grown by at least three....

*TBR = To Be Read