Tuesday 29 December 2015

Autumn In Catalonia by Jane MacKenzie

It is 1963, and in her mansion in the foothills of the Pyrenees, Joana idles her days away, banished by her powerful husband and alienated from her family. 
Meanwhile, in Barcelona, her daughter Carla is impoverished and in trouble. 
Hating all her parents stand for, Carla has embraced the student movement against the Franco regime, but her father has been watching her, and, just before their wedding, her beloved fiance is arrested.   
Pregnant Carla runs to Grandmother Maria, terrified, powerless to help either Luc or herself. 
Maria shelters her but they know their movements are still being followed. Why did her daughter Joana marry into the Franco regime and abandon her family? Maria has never understood.   
This is the story of three generations of women, torn apart by the Spanish Civil War, and by one determined man. 
It takes the arrival of an unknown cousin for them to start building bridges. Martin carries his own ghosts, but he has come looking for his family, and his belief in them helps them unite to face the enemy together, one autumn in Catalonia.

Autumn in Catalonia by Jane MacKenzie was published in paperback by Allison & Busby on 22 October 2015, and is the sequel to Daughter of Catalonia which I reviewed here on Random Things in April 2014.

I enjoyed Jane MacKenzie's first novel; Daughter of Catalonia, so was delighted to be given the opportunity to read and review her next instalment, and once again I have been transported across Europe to an era that I knew little about and a region that is beautifully described.

The story opens in Barcelona in the early 1960s. General Franco is still in power and Carla is a student who is totally against the regime. Carla and her boyfriend Luc are active members of the student movement against the Government, but Carla's father is a very important man who ensures that Carla's heart will be broken when he makes sure that Luc disappears.

Carla finds solace with her Grandmother Marie. They have been estranged for many years, but Carla's father has finally managed to kill any love or loyalty she had for him, and she finds herself cast out of the family.

When a young man; Martin arrives and informs her that he is her cousin, Carla becomes determined to find out more about her heritage, and to discover what it was that made her mother cast aside her loving family and marry such an evil and cruel man.

Jane MacKenzie takes the reader and plunges them into the heart of a beautiful country that has been torn apart by the Civil War. Her descriptions of the small towns, the beautiful countryside and the oppressive regime are wonderfully drawn. The pain and horrors experienced by this one family are brilliantly depicted; colourful and authentically detailed.

The author has written a powerful story of love and family dynamics, it is both gripping and captivating. Skilfully constructed and immensely satisfying.

My thanks to the author and publisher who sent my copy for review.

Jane MacKenzie has always had a love of languages and speaks fluent French.
Much of her adult life has been spent travelling the world, teaching English and French everywhere from the Gambia to Papua New Guinea to Bahrain, and recently working for two years at CERN in Geneva.
She now splits her time between her self-built house in Collioure, France and the Highlands of Scotland, where he has made her family home.

For more information, check out her website at www.janemackenzie.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter @JaneFMackenzie


1 comment:

  1. This is a captivating read on several levels. Totally transported to an era and country, that seems well researched. Thanks for the great review.