In The Basque Country In Northern Spain, Just Before The Civil War, Three Men In Dinner Suits Stop For A Drink At A Bar Before Continuing On Their Way To A Wedding Their Trip Is Interrupted When Their Leader, The Wealthy Don Leopoldo, Has A Stroke In The RestroomThis Event, Bizarre And Undignified Though It Is, Begins To Weave Together The Lives Of Two Remarkable Women The Bride, The Beautiful And Distinguished Isabel Cruces, And Mar A Antonia Etxarri, The Bar Owner S Adolescent Daughter Shortly After The Outbreak Of The War, Mar A Antonia Is Raped And Isabel S Newlywed Husband, Captain Julen Herraiz, Is Shot Both Women Find Themselves Violently Altered, Alone, And Pregnant A Crippled But Wise Local Doctor Is The Only Witness To The Mysterious, Silent Agreement These Women Conclude In The Loneliness And Desperation Of Their Mutual Suffering Many Years Later, A Young Student, Grandson To Isabel, Returns To The Scene Of The Events To Spend An Innocent Summer Studying For Law Exams As He Goes About His Work, He Unwittingly Awakens The Ghosts Haunting Both Mar A Antonia And The Doctor, And Through Their Memories The Passionate Stories Of The Past Unfurl Before The Reader De Lope Brilliantly Reveals His Incredible Story Through Flashes Of Memory And Emotion, Told In A Winding Torrent That Expresses The Cumulative Nature Of Both History And Nostalgia The Wrong Blood is a complicated story with a very simple plot Taking place in the present in a seaside village of the Basque Country, The Wrong Blood, tells of a young lawyer who spends a few months in his family s villa to study for his Notary exams The doctor who lives next door pesters him to go out for lunch for reasons which are never revealed to the young man The old woman servant, who inherited the villa from the lawyer s grandmother, bustles around him, keeping mainly to herself, but always in the background Both of these dottering old folks hold a deep secret about the lawyer s heritage and ancestry To the end, as the plane carries the young lawyer back to Madrid to take his exams, the doctor and the old servant decide to retain this secret, realizing that to reveal it would cause unhappiness in their young visitor s life.His visit, however, has brought a flood of memories of the Carlist War that effected these people so profoundly This story is rich in details of Basque culture and attitudes towards life While the storyline of the present is simple, the plot of the past brings all the anguish and struggle of wartime to the forefront The reader must pay attention to the back and forth transitions between these eras, because they meld so closely within the minds of the characters and thus in the narrative.This is a book to be savored and enjoyed slowly, like the rich stews of the Basque Country The concept of name and family is different among the Basques, whose presence in a house is so ancient that an individual is named for the house rather than for the family This makes the Old Servant Woman s sacrifice so much poignant because while she inherited the House of her employer and would ve customarily acquired the Identity attached to it and it s family, she is denied this privilege Instead, she is given the house and all its material wealth as well as eighteen million pesetas With these, she must make do and hold a tragic secret close to her heart. The Wrong Blood is one of those novels I really wanted to love but left me feeling flat Several days after finishing the story, I am not quite certain what Mr de Lope was trying to accomplish Was he trying to tell a story about the impact of the Civil War or was it a study of humankind and their reactions to adverse conditions I suspect the answer is both things, but the fact that I am not 100 percent certain about it leads me to conclude that he was not successful with whatever he was attempting.The narrator is obviously a man, and unfortunately, this is not a novel where a male author writes female characters that are true to life Considering that the story revolves around Mar a and her struggles, this is a glaring conflict This is particularly true of the rape scene, which avoids any discussion of the emotional trauma and approaches the entire scenario rather clinically and coldly Throughout the novel, Mar a is never truly fleshed out as a woman but remains this chilly, miserly one dimensional character who is concerned about counting place settings than about others feelings I suspect that in the right hands, Mar a could truly have come to life, which would have made the flashbacks and other parts of the story come to life as well.Considering how much of the novel revolves around the characters, Dr Cortez and the grandson Goitia, Isabel and Mar a, the fact that they remain stilted and lacking in emotional connection does nothing to recommend the story The big reveal is quite predictable, and the entire story plays out as one expects A character driven novel only works when readers are able to take a vested interest in the characters Unfortunately, the reader is not able to connect with any of the characters in this fashion.The Wrong Blood redeems itself via its descriptions of the Basque countryside Lyrical in their sweeping grandeur and beauty, this is where Mr de Lope shines The reader truly gets a sense of what the Civil War did to the inhabitants of the area, how confusing and treacherous it was for all involved and the scars it left on both people and locations.As this is Mr de Lope s first novel translated into English, one cannot help but wonder how much is quite literally lost in translation Then again, because the physical descriptions are so excellent, this leads one to conclude that very little is actually lost Therefore, is this an instance of an author who is better able to provide poetic descriptions of places but cannot do the same for people Without reading Mr de Lope s other works, one may never know I do know that The Wrong Blood has moments of brilliance but a large majority of the novel fails to spark The result is a novel that does not live up to its own expectations. The Wrong Blood is the story of two women of different classes in Spain s Basque country Maria Antonia Etxarri, the young daughter of a local innkeeper and Isabel Cruces Hernandez, who comes from a family of wealth and influence During the Spanish Civil War 1936 1939 , their individual tragedies unexpectedly bring and then bind them together for the rest of their lives Isabel falls in love with and marries an army captain, who is killed shortly afterwards, leaving behind not only Isabel but her unborn child Maria Antonia, only a teenager, is raped when a group of soldiers take shelter at her father s inn The local doctor, Felix Castro, is the central figure connecting them both In the present, Miguel Goitia, law student and Isabel s grandson, is spending time at his grandmother s estate which now belongs to Maria Antonia , a sanctuary of peace and quiet while he is preparing for his bar exam His very presence there brings out memories of old wartime secrets that Miguel is not privy to and Castro is torn between telling him the truth about things or letting old memories lie dormant It is also a story about loss, grief, the nature of class distinction, and as Dave Boling, author of Guernica and one of the blurbers wrote, about human survival at desperate times In terms of the writing, the direction of the plotline is a bit obvious once you begin reading, but that hardly matters in the long run I only rarely find an author whose prose is so eloquent that I want to read the book again just to appreciate its beauty And considering this is a translated version, well, I can only imagine how absolutely wonderful it must be in the original Spanish The story is paced very well it starts a bit slow, setting the overall tone immediately, while allowing the reader to absorb and appreciate small details that might otherwise be overlooked The sense of time and place is evoked largely through the use of flashbacks, which take the reader seamlessly and skillfully through the hardships of war into the present and back again, without causing any interruption to the overall flow of the story It is a book that will you find difficult to put down until the very end.I recommend this novel to people who enjoy Spanish novels in translation, and who truly appreciate the beauty of the written word It s definitely not a book for those who want something quick and easy, nor is it an action packed novel that once you ve read you ll forget, like so much fiction that s out there on bookstore shelves at the moment It s a book to be enjoyed slowly and kept on your shelf to visit again some day. This is really a 1.5 rating, but I can t in good conscience give it the same number of stars that I have 50 Shades of Grey, so, whatevs.There s no doubt that this is a beautifully written book Full of poignant observations about life and such Definitely flowery and could have should have been toned down A lot.But there s an obvious problem with this book there s no conflict Nothing actually happens The book tells the story of two women whose lives were drastically and irrevocably impacted during the Spanish Civil War That sentence, while factually true, makes the book sound far interesting than it ever was In reality the book meanders through flowery language until you ve forgotten who you re reading about, and by the time the author lets you know that something has occurred or is about to occur, you ve long stopped caring because you were reading purple prose instead of character development.This review sounds harsh, and I don t intend for it to be, but the book definitely misses a crucial element of what makes a story a story, ya know I m fully willing to concede that the art of storytelling is different in Spain this is a Spanish book translated for us folks across the pond , but that didn t make me enjoy it any.
Is a well-known author, some of his books are a fascination for readers like in the La sangre ajena book, this is one of the most wanted Manuel de Lope author readers around the world.
- 288 pages
- La sangre ajena
- Manuel de Lope
- 13 October 2018 Manuel de Lope