This was one of those reads that don’t strike a chord in me. I’m giving the novel 3.5 stars. There’s nothing wrong with the writing. On the whole, the storytelling is skillfully executed, with sympathetic characters and descriptive setting, evoking sense of place and time. The description of the war scenes and aftermath in the last third of the book is particularly piquant.
It is a historical novel set in Guernica in the days leading up to the Second World War. The story is mainly about the experiences of three Basque peasant brothers and their loved ones as they live through the dark days of the Spanish Civil War. Loosely interlaced with the main story is the snippet that tells how Pablo Picasso gets inspiration for his famous mural titled “Guernica”.
My feeling is that the novel reads like a collation of short stories. Well told as the separate stories are, there is a lack of overall cohesiveness. I can’t relate to any of the characters on an emotional level. Also, I find the background of the Spanish Civil War a bit sketchy – I was expecting more historical details from the novel.