Friday, 21 October 2016

Forgotten Women by Freda Lightfoot.

It is 1936 and Spain is on the brink of civil war. Across Europe, young men are enlisting in the International Brigade to free their Spanish brethren from the grip of fascism, leaving sisters and lovers at home.
But not all women are content to be left behind. In Britain, Charlotte McBain and Libby Forbes, friends from opposite sides of the class divide, are determined to do what they can; in Spain, Rosita García Díaz, fiercely loyal to her family and country, cannot stand by and watch. Three brave women, inspired by patriotism, idealism, love and even revenge, dare to go into battle against tradition and oppression.
Tying them all together is Jo, Libby’s granddaughter. Five decades later she travels to Spain hoping to make sense of a troubling letter hidden among her grandmother’s possessions. What she learns will change all of their lives forever.
Deceit, heartbreak and a longstanding fear of reprisals must all be overcome if the deeds of the forgotten women are to be properly honoured.

The book begins with a heartbreaking letter from a woman sent from Ventas prison in Spain and dated 1936 and it sounds very much like the writer did not survive.
Forward to 1986 in an art gallery in Scotland where Jo is exhibiting a painting which came from her grandmother's attic as part of an exhibition commemorating the year when Scots joined the International Brigade at the start of the Spanish civil war.
She is interrupted by a very curt Spanish man who tells her that the painting is not genuine. Jo is shocked and so is her grandmother who is standing nearby. The man, Anton invites them both to meet his grandmother in Spain who he says has the original painting.
Jo goes to Spain and we hear the story of three woman who in 1936 joined in the civil war in Spain,one Spanish woman and two Scottish.

I adored this book. I wanted it to go on and on. It brought home to me how the civil war affected families and friends and how horrific it was for ordinary people. I didn't know before I read this just how many young people went from Scotland to help the cause whether it be to fight or nurse or hand out food and supplies. There is a lot more I'd like to share with you about this story, I could tell you about Charlotte from Scotland who went to Spain to escape her domineering step father, or Libby who joined the international brigade to find her young brother Nick or Rosita who was fighting for her family's survival. You will enjoy the book better if you find out all those things for yourself.
The parts of the book which were set during the war had me on the edge of my seat and scared to turn to a new page, I was so afraid of what might befall the women.
I only have one negative thing to say about this book and it's very small. I didn't like the two women speaking in Scottish tongue. I'm Scottish myself but I found those parts a bit off putting and think the story would have flowed better without it, but this is just my opinion I still loved the book and I'm sure you will too.

For kindle or paperback.

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