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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Under The Spanish Stars by Alli Sinclair

Title: Under The Spanish Stars
Author: Alli Sinclair
Publisher:25 January 2016 by Harlequin Australia MIRA
Pages: 352 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: womens fiction, romance, Australian-Spanish cultural
My Rating: 3 crowns


Charlotte Kavanagh’s beloved grandma Katarina Sanchez is gravely ill, so when she begs Charlotte to travel to her homeland in Andalucía to uncover the truth behind a mysterious painting, Charlotte agrees.  Taking leave from her soul-destroying job and stalled life in Australia, Charlotte embarks on a quest through Granada’s ancient cobble-stoned streets and vibrant neighbourhoods. There she meets Mateo Vives, a flamenco guitarist with a dark past, and through him she quickly becomes entangled in the world of flamenco and gypsies that ignites a passion she had thought lost. 

But the mystery surrounding the painting deepens, reaching back in time to the war-torn Spain of the 1940s and Charlotte discovers her grandmother’s connection to the Spanish underground. Who is her grandmother, really? What is Mateo’s connection to her family history? And why is finding answers to a family mystery turning into a journey of self-discovery for Charlotte?

Weighed down by secrets, betrayals and shattered relationships, Charlotte finds herself questioning the true meaning of heritage, family and love. 

My Thoughts 

"There was nothing so exciting as a blank canvas, the chance to create a world from one's imagination, to pour out the feelings of one's soul."

This tale centres around Charlotte (an Australian) and her Spanish Grandmother. The former is sent on a journey which ultimately leads to her discovering her own path in life. The latter, time to reflect upon a tumultuous past. So in a nutshell it's contains family saga's, exotic Spanish locations, romance with a touch of mystery thrown in. 

There is some good research included and I especially enjoyed the young Katarina's story in Franco Spain. It's fascinating to read about life, cultural expression and family/society divisions at that time.

"Franco had come into power he'd lorded it over the people, his unwavering belief in Catholicism influencing daily life."

It has strong associations with Latin dancing, so if you are at all interested in "Duende" (stated often) or the importance of dance there is much to read and learn here.

"Rondena is part of the fandango malagueno and is the oldest fandango ever known."

For me, it was a little slow for things to get going; it took until about half way through for my interest to be peaked with the Grandmothers questions about her heritage and the mystery painter becoming evident. Sinclair takes the opportunity to reflect on life through her characters and there are many worthy snippets of advice to reflect upon:

"Do not live in a future of what-ifs ..... live in the moment .... life should be scary at times. How else can we push ourselves to dig deeper, climb higher .... regrets are pointless, focus on the good in life, embrace what we have and move on as best we can."

In many ways it could be described as a travel fiction as there are interesting cultural aspects. Ultimately, however, it's about life and finding one's path.

"She'd discovered a new self, connected with a past and found a future.....welcoming Charlotte to her new home under the Spanish stars."

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

1 comment:

Mystica said...

Travel and life together seem like a good mix. Sounds really good.