5 October 2014

Guest Post ~ The Poet’s Wife, by Rebecca Stonehill

An unforgettable journey into the heart of one family torn apart by war. 
Granada, 1920. Free-spirited Luisa and young poet Eduardo fall in love, cementing a bond that can never be broken.

Available on Amazon US and Amazon UK 

To be honest, the setting came before the story. Many years ago, I spent eighteen months living in the southern Spanish city of Granada, teaching English as a foreign language, learning Spanish and soaking up the culture. I really did fall in love with this city and although I’d only written short stories previously, I knew that I wanted to set my first novel in this enchanting place, almost in homage to Granada.

I knew very little about the Spanish Civil War but as I’ve always been attracted to historical settings, my novel naturally wanted to be set in the past. It wasn’t until I started talking to people and asking questions that I realised the civil war was a huge taboo still, despite having finished over sixty years ago. The more I asked questions, the more I discovered that there were people willing to talk to me about it and people who weren’t. But by then I was intrigued and longed to find out more about it, particularly as I loved the work of Granada’s celebrated son, the poet Federico García Lorca, who was murdered by the fascist forces at the start of the civil war.

Once I started doing my research, I couldn’t stop, reading as much as I could get my hands on and talking to as many people as I could. I was also fascinated by the International Brigades, men and women from many parts of the world who came to Spain between 1936 and 1939 to help the democratically elected, overthrown Republican government fight fascism. Many were never to return. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to talk to one Irishman, Bob Doyle, who did survive. By then, he was in his mid-nineties and we spoke a couple of years before he died and I was amazed and inspired by his commitment all those years ago to the Republican cause, a cause that he, like so many others, risked their lives for on Spanish soil because fascism affected everybody. The character Henry in my novel is inspired by the stories of these courageous, principled people.

At heart, The Poet’s Wife is a story told through the eyes of three generations of women from one family, a family that is ripped apart by the Spanish civil war but that never loses its courageous spirit nor its dignity. This war, I feel, is a dark but fascinating slice of modern European history that is often overlooked. I am always surprised that Spain welcomes more visitors from my native United Kingdom than anywhere else in the world and yet people know very little about what happened in this country during the civil war and, more recently, General Franco’s dictatorship. Through my novel, I’d like to redress this balance as well as provide people with a compelling, emotional read.

Rebecca Stonehill
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About the Author

Rebecca Stonehill is from London but currently lives in Nairobi with her three children and husband who works as a water and sanitation engineer with urban poor communities. As well as teaching creative writing to children, Rebecca is currently working on her second novel, set in Kenya in the early twentieth century (then known as the East Africa Protectorate) and the Mau Mau Emergency of the 1950’s. 

Find out more at Rebecca's website: www.rebeccastonehil.com and find her on Facebook and Twitter @bexstonehill 

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