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A country torn apart by war. Two love stories divided by decades. One chance to discover the truth... Feisty journalist Isabella has never known the truth about her family. Escaping from a dangerous assignment in the turbulent Basque country, she finds her world turned upside down, firstly by her irresistible attraction to the mysterious Rafael, and then by a new clue to her A country torn apart by war. Two love stories divided by decades. One chance to discover the truth... Feisty journalist Isabella has never known the truth about her family. Escaping from a dangerous assignment in the turbulent Basque country, she finds her world turned upside down, firstly by her irresistible attraction to the mysterious Rafael, and then by a new clue to her own past. As she begins to unravel the tangled story of her identity, Isabella uncovers a story of passion, betrayal and loss that reaches back to the dark days of Spain's civil war - when a passionate Spanish girl risked everything for her country, and for the young British rebel who captured her heart. But can Isabella trust the man she's fallen in love with? Or are some wartime secrets better left undisturbed...? Heartbreaking, gripping historical fiction about the tragedy of war, and the redemption of love. Perfect for fans of Angela Petch's The Tuscan Secret and Kathryn Hughes' The Letter.


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A country torn apart by war. Two love stories divided by decades. One chance to discover the truth... Feisty journalist Isabella has never known the truth about her family. Escaping from a dangerous assignment in the turbulent Basque country, she finds her world turned upside down, firstly by her irresistible attraction to the mysterious Rafael, and then by a new clue to her A country torn apart by war. Two love stories divided by decades. One chance to discover the truth... Feisty journalist Isabella has never known the truth about her family. Escaping from a dangerous assignment in the turbulent Basque country, she finds her world turned upside down, firstly by her irresistible attraction to the mysterious Rafael, and then by a new clue to her own past. As she begins to unravel the tangled story of her identity, Isabella uncovers a story of passion, betrayal and loss that reaches back to the dark days of Spain's civil war - when a passionate Spanish girl risked everything for her country, and for the young British rebel who captured her heart. But can Isabella trust the man she's fallen in love with? Or are some wartime secrets better left undisturbed...? Heartbreaking, gripping historical fiction about the tragedy of war, and the redemption of love. Perfect for fans of Angela Petch's The Tuscan Secret and Kathryn Hughes' The Letter.

32 review for The Spanish Girl

  1. 5 out of 5

    Cathy

    The book opens in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War with a dramatic prologue in which a young boy witnesses a shocking event that will have consequences for decades to come.  It’s then fast forward to May 1976 and Franco’s Spain as journalist Isabella Adame travels to interview Rafael Daguerre, a prominent Basque separatist. Initially, Isabella finds Rafael rude, arrogant and obstinately self-assured but, as we learned from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, first impressions are not always accu The book opens in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War with a dramatic prologue in which a young boy witnesses a shocking event that will have consequences for decades to come.  It’s then fast forward to May 1976 and Franco’s Spain as journalist Isabella Adame travels to interview Rafael Daguerre, a prominent Basque separatist. Initially, Isabella finds Rafael rude, arrogant and obstinately self-assured but, as we learned from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, first impressions are not always accurate – or are they? Isabella’s role as a campaigning journalist is seeking answers to questions and trying to discover the truth so it’s ironic that she’s living with so many unanswered questions about her own life, such as the mystery surrounding the disappearance of her birth mother, Sofia, and the identity of her father.  It’s resulted in Isabella becoming rather guarded, with few friends and a life which has become, in her own words, a ‘monotone mosaic’.  The only people who mean anything to her are Calida and Aurelio who adopted her when she was a baby, fleeing from Spain to France during the height of the Civil War.  For all these reasons, it’s not surprising that she is intrigued when Rafael reveals a link to her mother.  From that point on, the book alternates between Isabella’s search for the truth and events during the Spanish Civil War. As the story unfolds, the reader is immersed in the complex politics and history of Spain both during the Civil War through the introduction of another storyline which will see a rivalry develop that will ultimately split a family, and later through events during the Franco regime.  Indeed, the author has her characters witness dramatic events such as the notorious bombing of the city of Guernica that left many dead and had a lasting impact on the people of Spain.  “The hostility that existed all over Spain, between families that had once lived peacefully together, and friends who couldn’t trust each other anymore.”   As a counterbalance to the horror, throughout the book the author uses opportunities to evoke the spirit of Spain – its  culture, food, landscape and music.  A scene that stood out for me was Isabella, inspired by traditional guitar playing, performing flamenco during which she feels ‘nothing existed only the thumping beat, the raw energy, the infinity of music’. I can’t say much more about how the story unfolds for fear of spoilers, except that I’m not sure I could be as forgiving as Isabella is to some of the characters when the truth of what they knew – and when – is finally revealed.  Isabella’s story exposes the guilt that can linger for things done or not done, the burning desire for answers and the need to belong. The Spanish Girl is an absorbing story of secrets and lies, love, loss and betrayal.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Thebooktrail

    Visit the locations in the novel A recommended read this one for the way the author has carefully crafted a story about the Civil War and the human angle of love and loss. The story is rich on detail and emotion and it stands out from other novels in this genre as it blends in a whole range of personal touches and stories to immerse you more into the setting. Visit the locations in the novel A recommended read this one for the way the author has carefully crafted a story about the Civil War and the human angle of love and loss. The story is rich on detail and emotion and it stands out from other novels in this genre as it blends in a whole range of personal touches and stories to immerse you more into the setting.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jéssica

    Historical Novel! Spain! So excited! Okay, first of all, for those that don't know and are reading this review, I'm from Portugal. Spain is our sibling country. We have a lot of history together. And although we do have some similar things in common we are definitely not the same. Yet, in school, we learned about some events that happened involving Portugal and Spain. Honestly, I don't think I have read a book, an historical fiction novel, about Spain back then, that made me as excited as this boo Historical Novel! Spain! So excited! Okay, first of all, for those that don't know and are reading this review, I'm from Portugal. Spain is our sibling country. We have a lot of history together. And although we do have some similar things in common we are definitely not the same. Yet, in school, we learned about some events that happened involving Portugal and Spain. Honestly, I don't think I have read a book, an historical fiction novel, about Spain back then, that made me as excited as this book. And, although I don't know a lot about the entire history of Spain, and my memory wasn't clear about the era in this novel, a recent time in history, I was still very fascinated, and I felt transported not just to the location, but back in time. Although Rafael is the name of my brother and grandpa, written the same way, and that's always weird to my brain at first... I loved the names of the characters. Actually, I loved the characters. I loved that we have a family dynamic and secrets. I love that we have romance and follow two stories separated by decades. I loved the characters development and their interactions; they were believable to me. I also loved the theme. I love the way the social and cultural aspect appeared in a way. As well as the political situation. I loved the flow the story had because it gave me time to absorb every moment and every scene and information. Overall, I enjoyed the story. It was quite a good surprise, not that I doubted the story or that I would like it. Yet, I was surprised by the connection I felt, by the love and sense of "finding the truth and who we are" that exist. I always love stories that have those elements because I can sometimes see myself in the characters, no matter their background story and the social, cultural, political, or family situations. [I want to thank Rachel, at Rachel’s Random Resources, Jules Hayes for the ebook, via Netgalley. Thank you for allowing me to join in the fun and being a part of the blog tour with my honest review of the book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.]

  4. 4 out of 5

    Karen Mace

    This is a book that features some fascinating times in history, and that alone grabs your attention right away. Add to the mix, some characters who show extreme determination and fortitude and you find yourself living their lives with them, and sharing their passions and despair about things they uncover, and wondering whether finding out the truth will bring them the resolution they desire. Set mostly in Spain, we follow the story over 2 time periods that are full of rebellion and conflict. Isab This is a book that features some fascinating times in history, and that alone grabs your attention right away. Add to the mix, some characters who show extreme determination and fortitude and you find yourself living their lives with them, and sharing their passions and despair about things they uncover, and wondering whether finding out the truth will bring them the resolution they desire. Set mostly in Spain, we follow the story over 2 time periods that are full of rebellion and conflict. Isabella has always wondered about her mother and when she finds someone who knows more about them, she is immediately eager to learn about the history and what her mother was involved with. I loved the periods of history featured in this story - both of which I knew very little about but it has led me to start reading up to learn more. In Isabella, we have a character who has a very driven personality and shows no fear when faced with trouble and the more we learn about her, the more we know where she gets that trait from! And as we follow the story from 1937, we hear of Sofia and Jack and how their paths crossed in extraordinary circumstances and the devastating and dramatic impact of those fighting the good fight. There are some very harrowing stories retold and it brings home the ugliness of war, of differences of 'opinion' and the human cost. This was an epic tale that I couldn't put down once I'd started it! You get totally absorbed in the drama and the extraordinary characters you meet along the way.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lizzie

    An outstanding read. It was the dual setting - of Civil War Spain and Spain, shortly after Franco's death in 1976 - that caught my attention, but there were billions of other things to love about this book as well. The Spanish Girls is epic in scope, ambitious and political (which I like!) but also personal, intimate and beautifully written. This is a writer who knows what she's doing and knows how to write not only a powerful story but a powerful sentence too. It's a universal story of love and An outstanding read. It was the dual setting - of Civil War Spain and Spain, shortly after Franco's death in 1976 - that caught my attention, but there were billions of other things to love about this book as well. The Spanish Girls is epic in scope, ambitious and political (which I like!) but also personal, intimate and beautifully written. This is a writer who knows what she's doing and knows how to write not only a powerful story but a powerful sentence too. It's a universal story of love and families - bonding together and/or being torn apart - and a search for identity and for truth. I loved the characters of Isabelle and Sofia, the relationships they have with themselves, their partners and the rest of the world. The long-reaching horrors of a Civil War weren't shied away from and that pervading fear of who you can trust was shown well. There was however a strong message of forgiveness, kindness and compassion - those who were able to live with those in their hearts certainly fared better than those who didn't. Spanish Girl? Me Encanto (!)

  6. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    The prologue to this lovely book is absolutely stunning, immediately drawing me into the story and its setting – but I will admit that it took a little longer to get entirely engaged by the present day story that then unfolded. But I soon became hooked by the chemistry between Isabella and Rafael, by the complexities of his involvement with the Basque separatists, the secrets he might be keeping, and keen to find out more about Isabella’s family history. Isabella is a complex and really interest The prologue to this lovely book is absolutely stunning, immediately drawing me into the story and its setting – but I will admit that it took a little longer to get entirely engaged by the present day story that then unfolded. But I soon became hooked by the chemistry between Isabella and Rafael, by the complexities of his involvement with the Basque separatists, the secrets he might be keeping, and keen to find out more about Isabella’s family history. Isabella is a complex and really interesting character – I found her quite difficult to get a fix on at first, and certainly didn’t warm to her, but as I found out more about her background at the same pace that she did I slowly became increasingly entangled. The book really took off for me when the action went back to 1937 – Jack’s experiences as he pursues his errant brother across Europe, the wonderful supporting characters, and all the immense complexities around the players and politics of the Spanish Civil War about which I was extraordinarily ignorant. I was equally clueless about the present day reverberations – and learned a lot as the two stories unfolded in tandem. The whole family story is exceptionally well told against an enthralling and immaculately researched historical backdrop – villainy and passion, with strong characters who spring to life from the pages. The writing is really excellent. There are scenes and moments that will long stay in the memory – heartbreaking and emotional, dramatic and shocking – as both stories twist and turn revealing layers of secrets that kept me entirely engaged, the pages turning ever faster. There’s no wrenching when moving between the past and present, and the way it is all pulled together towards the book’s conclusion is very cleverly done, the climactic scenes both gripping and emotional. And I really must mention – without spoiling it of course - the ending, which was emotionally so perfectly judged, beautifully done, and moved me to tears. This is a book that will delight anyone who enjoys well researched and written historical fiction, convincing and wholly engaging romances in the past and present day, a richly drawn backdrop that both supports and drives the story, along with a sweeping, compelling and totally heartbreaking story. Clearly written from the heart, and I recommend it very highly.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Elena

    This is an epic, sweeping, historical fiction story set in Spain and told with two separate timelines. Firstly that of Isabella whose point of view is told from 1976, a year after Franco’s fall from power. Secondly there is the point of view of Sofia and Jack. This story takes place mid to late 1930s and we soon discover that they are Isabella’s parents. Isabella is keen to discover what she can about her lineage. Brought up by adoptive parents she longs to discover her biological origins and so This is an epic, sweeping, historical fiction story set in Spain and told with two separate timelines. Firstly that of Isabella whose point of view is told from 1976, a year after Franco’s fall from power. Secondly there is the point of view of Sofia and Jack. This story takes place mid to late 1930s and we soon discover that they are Isabella’s parents. Isabella is keen to discover what she can about her lineage. Brought up by adoptive parents she longs to discover her biological origins and soon realises that Sofia was a strong, political force opposed to Franco’s regime. Jack is the Englishman who she finds out is her father, arriving in Spain looking for his brother Joe who has gone missing while fighting against all that Franco represents. We are thrown right into the thick of the regime and what it meant for ordinary Spaniards at the time. At times life was so hard for them. Brutality and fear among the citizens of Spain was rife and the civil war was divisive and destructive. The author portrays the era brilliantly and I learnt so much about the politics of the time. I felt so sad for what the innocent people of Spain had to endure during the war and the dictatorship. I loved Jack’s principled nature and the fact that he couldn’t help himself from falling in love with The Spanish Girl, Sofia. Sofia herself is feisty, strong-minded and an independent Republican, going against her cruel father. The ramifications of the political turmoil in Spain could still be felt during Isabella’s life, the cruelty of the civil guards an example of this. I became hooked on this story and felt great affection for the characters. Completely absorbing from start to finish this is a story I won’t forget in a hurry and I was sad when it ended. The author has researched the time meticulously and it shines through the pages. The love story between Jack and Sofia is sweet and heartbreaking. There were so many aspects of this book that I loved and can imagine seeing this on film. A fantastic read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Ryles

    I didn't think I was going to enjoy The Spanish Girl as much as I did; I found it a little hard to get into at first but once I did I was completely enthralled. I was so captivated by the story that it made me cry at a particular heartbreaking and poignant moment and if that's not an indicator of a good book, I don't know what is! The dual timeline of 1937 and 1976 works beautifully as both storylines are interlinked and I was equally fascinated by both. Rather than time flicking back and forth i I didn't think I was going to enjoy The Spanish Girl as much as I did; I found it a little hard to get into at first but once I did I was completely enthralled. I was so captivated by the story that it made me cry at a particular heartbreaking and poignant moment and if that's not an indicator of a good book, I don't know what is! The dual timeline of 1937 and 1976 works beautifully as both storylines are interlinked and I was equally fascinated by both. Rather than time flicking back and forth in alternate chapters, Jules Hayes has chosen to group together a good chunk of chapters for each timeline and this really works well. I felt it helped me to get to know the characters better and made them more memorable when the timeline changed. Jules Hayes's writing is incredibly authentic, although a little too much at times with a lot of Spanish phrases (followed by translations) but as I don't speak a word of Spanish, they ended up being slightly redundant, although appreciated, words in the prose for me. I also know very little about Spain's civil war and the Franco regime but the details in the book certainly felt very historically accurate to me. It may be an era that is often written about but I've never read wartime fiction set in Spain and the effect of war is no less devastating. The descriptive and emotive writing completely overwhelmed me at times as I was so immersed in the book that I felt as if I was actually there; I could hear the drone of planes overhead and the whistle of bombs as they were dropped. It's absolutely stunning writing from Jules Hayes. Poignant, immersive and compelling, The Spanish Girl is an impressive piece of historical fiction; it's beautifully written and highly recommended. I received an ARC to read and review for the blog tour; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Katherine Hayward Pérez

    I am hooked on anything related to Spain and so requested this book as soon as I found it on the Rachel0s Random Resources website. I was so happy to find space on the tour for the book. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about Spanish history in my Spanish classes at school so I was eager to read this. Isabella is one of the main characters and the book is a poignant book about the history and political events of the time. After Franco's death in 1975, we see what Spain was like and also in a differe I am hooked on anything related to Spain and so requested this book as soon as I found it on the Rachel0s Random Resources website. I was so happy to find space on the tour for the book. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about Spanish history in my Spanish classes at school so I was eager to read this. Isabella is one of the main characters and the book is a poignant book about the history and political events of the time. After Franco's death in 1975, we see what Spain was like and also in a different time frame during the Spanish Civil War. It is very richly detailed in setting and character experiences, and I felt for Isabella and her plight. It also has very romantic parts. I was curious that it was set in the Basque Country (País Vasco in Spanish) because I know something of history of the conflicts there. The writing is interesting and atmospheric. The events of the time are well portrayed, thought out and researched. I felt like I built on what I knew about Spanish history and culture and I came away satisfied with the novel. Thanks to Jules Hayes, Rachel's Random Resources and Boldwood Books for my ARRC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. 4 stars.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jane Hunt

    This dual timeline novel explores two tragic and turbulent times in Spanish history through the eyes of the people who lived through them. Two love stories echo the other in many ways. Family, love, loss and forgiveness are predominant themes in this politically astute story. The setting and time periods are the ones that affected Spain and drew the attention and interference of the wider world. This is an emotional story, the political struggles, in both of the timelines, were personal to the p This dual timeline novel explores two tragic and turbulent times in Spanish history through the eyes of the people who lived through them. Two love stories echo the other in many ways. Family, love, loss and forgiveness are predominant themes in this politically astute story. The setting and time periods are the ones that affected Spain and drew the attention and interference of the wider world. This is an emotional story, the political struggles, in both of the timelines, were personal to the people living through them, and the writing reflects this. Believable and vibrant characters give life to familial relationships and friendships. It's immersive and insightful, evoking all the reader's senses, so they feel part of it. The poignant but positive ending is a perfect conclusion. I received a copy of this book from Orion Dash via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Laura Wilkinson

    Jules Hayes’ The Spanish Girl is a powerful novel centered on journalist Isabella’s search to discover the facts surrounding her mother’s life and death. A quest for truth, identity, understanding and love, set across two fascinating timelines – the Spanish Civil War when Isabella’s mother disappeared (along with thousands of others) and the mid-70s after Franco’s death and the rise of the Basque separatist movement. Cleverly blending the personal and the political this is a compelling read with Jules Hayes’ The Spanish Girl is a powerful novel centered on journalist Isabella’s search to discover the facts surrounding her mother’s life and death. A quest for truth, identity, understanding and love, set across two fascinating timelines – the Spanish Civil War when Isabella’s mother disappeared (along with thousands of others) and the mid-70s after Franco’s death and the rise of the Basque separatist movement. Cleverly blending the personal and the political this is a compelling read with four fascinating characters at its heart. Beautifully written, bristling with emotion and poignancy, The Spanish Girl brings to life a dark period in history and the redemption power of truth and love. If you enjoy immersive, emotional dual timeline narratives, this one’s for you. Highly recommended.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Joanne Lewis

    Fans of historical fiction will certainly not be disappointed with this one! Beautifully written and compelling to read, ‘The Spanish Girl’ is a tale of the tragedy of war, long lost love and hidden secrets. Set across a dual timeline, the author expertly weaves the two storylines together creating a spellbinding tale that is hard to put down. While there is a strong political theme throughout, events from both the Spanish Civil War and after Franco’s death in the mid-1970s are depicted in a way Fans of historical fiction will certainly not be disappointed with this one! Beautifully written and compelling to read, ‘The Spanish Girl’ is a tale of the tragedy of war, long lost love and hidden secrets. Set across a dual timeline, the author expertly weaves the two storylines together creating a spellbinding tale that is hard to put down. While there is a strong political theme throughout, events from both the Spanish Civil War and after Franco’s death in the mid-1970s are depicted in a way that is easily accessible to the reader. The relationships that develop between the central characters are explored with feeling and it is easy to become drawn into their emotions as events around them threaten to take over. A stunning, epic novel that should be on every bookshelf! With thanks to the author and publisher Orion Dash for the opportunity to participate in the blog tour.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    I was given a free copy of this book to review. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own. The Spanish Girl was just an okay read for me. There were only maybe 2 parts in the entire book that grabbed my attention. There's not really much I can say about it other than I was bored throughout most of the book. It wasn't for me but I think others who enjoy slower historical fiction would enjoy it. With that said I do think this book has a lot to offer other readers. If you are in I was given a free copy of this book to review. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own. The Spanish Girl was just an okay read for me. There were only maybe 2 parts in the entire book that grabbed my attention. There's not really much I can say about it other than I was bored throughout most of the book. It wasn't for me but I think others who enjoy slower historical fiction would enjoy it. With that said I do think this book has a lot to offer other readers. If you are interested in historical romance you would probably enjoy this.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sian

    My review of The Spanish Girl is on my blog https://quirkybookreads.wordpress.com... My review of The Spanish Girl is on my blog https://quirkybookreads.wordpress.com...

  15. 4 out of 5

    Victoria Springfield

    I really enjoyed this fast paced read. The characters were great especially Isabella, the journalist who is seeking answers about her past. An eye opening reminder of the upheavals in Spain during the 20th century and their enduring repercussions. A fascinating read, highly recommended.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tom Flaherty

  17. 5 out of 5

    Galina

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jan

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mrs Patricia Smith

  20. 4 out of 5

    Linda

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jules Hayes

  22. 4 out of 5

    Bookietracey

  23. 5 out of 5

    Anna

  24. 4 out of 5

    Frankie (Chicks, Rogues and Scandals)

  25. 5 out of 5

    Susan Golden

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kerry

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jill's Book Cafe

  28. 4 out of 5

    L.S.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tarnia

  30. 5 out of 5

    Denise Schmidt

  31. 5 out of 5

    Giada

  32. 4 out of 5

    Chelsie

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