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May 2012 Feature of the Month: Books Set in Spain

A monthly discussion on varying themes guided by our members. (Book of the Month discussions through December 2011 can be found in this section too.)
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boswellbaxter
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May 2012 Feature of the Month: Books Set in Spain

Post by boswellbaxter » Wed May 2nd, 2012, 4:49 pm

MLE will get us started with this one (books set in Spain from 1300 to 1700).
Susan Higginbotham
Coming in October: The Woodvilles


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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Wed May 2nd, 2012, 8:40 pm

Oh my goodness, it's May already! There was a time constraint, I think-- after 1000?
Well, let me get this started. I would like to begin the discussion by polling the forum on how many books you have read that were set in Spain. and for purposes of convenience, we'll include Portugal and the Spanish and Portuguese-controlled areas of the New World -- and even the Far East, since these countries had such an impact during the age of exploration.

I'll start by listing a few that have already been discussed on this forum -- cut and paste the ones you've read, and tell me what you thought of them! (Note: inclusion on the list does not imply a recommendation on my part, although some of these are marvelous)

The Last Queen -- C.W. Gortner
By Fire, by Water -- Kaplan
Cathedral of the Sea
Driving Over Lemons (OK, it's a modern memoir, but it's hilarious)
The Sun Also Rises -- Hemmingway
Shadow of the Wind -- Zafon
Zorro -- Isabel Allende
Ines of My Soul -- Allende
The Prisoner of Tordesillas -- Lawrence Schoonover
Captain Alatriste (series) -- Arturo Perez-Reverte
Rocamora -- Donald Michael Platt
The Queen's Sorrow -- Suzannah Dunn
That Other Juana -- Linda Carlino
Granada -- Ashour Radwa
The Lions of Al-Rassan -- Guy Gavriel Kay
The Last Jew -- Noah Gordon
The Walking Drum -- Louis L'Amour
And there are the Spanish Classics, like The Celestina, Don Quixote, Lazarillo de Tormes, Tales of the Alhambra, and of course, El Cid.

I know there must be bunches I've left out.

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donroc
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Post by donroc » Wed May 2nd, 2012, 10:13 pm

Unashamedly, Rocamora by Donald Michael Platt, now reisued in soft cover and available on Kindle, Nook, and ebooks through smashwords. :D
Image

Bodo the Apostate, a novel set during the reign of Louis the Pious and end of the Carolingian Empire.

http://www.donaldmichaelplatt.com
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXZthhY6 ... annel_page

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Thu May 3rd, 2012, 12:41 am

I already assumed you had read that one, Don. Any others?

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donroc
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Post by donroc » Thu May 3rd, 2012, 1:21 am

[quote=""MLE""]I already assumed you had read that one, Don. Any others?[/quote]

;)

None I can think of because I researched only non-fiction for the novel.
Image

Bodo the Apostate, a novel set during the reign of Louis the Pious and end of the Carolingian Empire.

http://www.donaldmichaelplatt.com
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXZthhY6 ... annel_page

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Susan
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Post by Susan » Thu May 3rd, 2012, 1:40 am

[quote=""MLE""]By Fire, by Water -- Kaplan[/quote]

Read this one earlier this year. I rarely have read about Spain, fiction or non-fiction, so this novel provided me with a snapshot of a time period when lots was going on...the Spanish Inquisition,the conquest of Granada, the expulsion of the Jews from Aragon and Castile, and Columbus' first voyage.
~Susan~
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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Thu May 3rd, 2012, 2:23 am

With the example of others before me, I feel obliged to put in a little historical comment.
Spain was unlike the rest of Europe, even southern European places like Italy and Greece, because of the strong influence of Islam on its culture and politics. Because of this, it didn't have a 'dark ages' where learning and classical culture were suppressed -- at least not until the Inquisition showed up. Under the Cordoba Caliphate, there was an intellectual flourishing from all three religions: Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. The classical works of Greece and Rome were translated into Arabic and much debated. Indeed, one of the foremost commentators on Aristotle in the Renaissance, often referred to simply as 'the Commentator' was the Muslim philosopher Averroes. Another gift of Islamic Spain to the rest of Europe (via Persia) was the medical works of Avicenna -- although the learned doctor's name was actually Ibn Sina.

It also wasn't a strictly Muslim-versus-Christian situation. the Iberian penninsula is a rugged place, criss-crossed with mountain ranges and hills, and very hard for one entity to fully control. After the Fatimid (shia Islam) dynasty in Cordoba faltered, the land broke into a dozen scrappy little Taifa kingdoms, all busy raiding each other and their Visigoth (nominally Christian) counterparts, who did the same. Alliances were formed across religions, when it was convenient. (Castile is called that because there is a castle on just about every high spot.)

The uncertain, ever-changing borders created quite a different culture and class system than the rest of Europe. More on that later.

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Amanda
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Post by Amanda » Thu May 3rd, 2012, 4:04 am

That Other Juana - Linda Carlino.
I have read that one. Quite enjoyed it. Though I would choose CW's The Last Queen as the winner out of the two. I find Juana and her place in European history fascinating though.
I also have 2 more of Linda Carlino's books. One on Charles V, and the other on Phillip II. She sadly passed away a few years ago. She was a lovely lady that I had exchanged emails.

Guernica by Dave Boling.
Bombing in the Basque country during the Spanish Civil War.
I have not read this one but I remember reading about it when it was released. It is a about a period of history and an event that I had no idea about. Still me to check it out one day.

There is also Jean Plaidy's trilogy on Ferdinand and Isabella (I read the 3 in the one volume). I really enjoyed that . Really looking forward to CWs new book on Isabella.

There is also another Lawrence Schoonover book on Isabella called The Queen's Cross. I have this but haven't read it as yet. A google check on this also showed another one called Keys of Gold about the Spanish inquisition.

Norah Lofts book The Crown of Aloes is also on Isabella. I think my mum has this. She collects Norah Lofts.

Checking my librarything tags also shows:

That Lady by Kate O'Brien (IRC it is about Philip II's mistress who lost an eye - I can picture the eyepatch on the cover).

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 3562
Joined: August 2008
Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Thu May 3rd, 2012, 5:18 am

[quote=""Amanda""]
There is also Jean Plaidy's trilogy on Ferdinand and Isabella (I read the 3 in the one volume). I really enjoyed that . Really looking forward to CWs new book on Isabella.

There is also another Lawrence Schoonover book on Isabella called The Queen's Cross. I have this but haven't read it as yet. A google check on this also showed another one called Keys of Gold about the Spanish inquisition.

Norah Lofts book The Crown of Aloes is also on Isabella. I think my mum has this. She collects Norah Lofts.

Checking my librarything tags also shows:

That Lady by Kate O'Brien (IRC it is about Philip II's mistress who lost an eye - I can picture the eyepatch on the cover).[/quote]
How could I forget Crown of Aloes? Read that years ago. And Plaidy's Spain books (smacks self on forehead.) Including The Spanish Bridegroom, about Philip II, although it is called something else now.
I also have a used copy of 'That Lady' in the TBR pile. It's about Ana Mendoza, the Princess of Eboli, who was married to the much older best friend of the king, and after he died carried on a scandalous affair with another courtier that got her banished from Philip's presence. A fascinating woman -- I read about her in the NF Power and Gender in Renaissance Spain: Eight Women of the Mendoza Family.

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Post by annis » Thu May 3rd, 2012, 8:06 am

David Raphael's The Alhambra Decree (1988). It's set around Isabella and Ferdinand's Edict of Expulsion, issued on 31 March 1492, ordering the expulsion of Jews from the Kingdom of Spain and its territories and possessions by 31 July of that year.

Trivia time : the fictional speech Raphael wrote as Rabbi Don Isaac Abrabanel's response to the Decree in his novel has been commonly (and mistakenly) cited as genuine.
Last edited by annis on Thu May 3rd, 2012, 8:10 am, edited 1 time in total.

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