Friday, February 17, 2012

Book 7: G is for Ghosts

Ghosts of SpainGhosts of Spain by Giles Tremlett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This one just squeaked up to four stars. Written by a British author who lives and is raising his family in Madrid, it looks at modern Spanish culture and how it has been shaped by history. Although I have studied bits of Spanish history, I have only visited Spain once and didn't have much of a sense for how Spain and its people tick. Much of the book was fascinating and I now feel I know a lot more about the country, including certain aspects that were a complete blank to me before - flamenco, Basque separatism, and the establishment of democracy after the death of Franco, to give a few examples. There was also a section on contemporary morality which was pretty graphic! The style is quite easy to read though I did find the book a bit over long - the final chapters on different regions were still interesting, but my focus was slipping by this stage. I found the author's casually anti-Catholic attitude a bit irritating and the close association of the Church with the Franco regime uncomfortable. I also couldn't help wondering how much things have changed in Spain in the light of the financial crises fo the last few years.

Next on my list for 52 Books in 52 Weeks is The Help. I didn't see the movie so I am coming to it with no preconceptions.


Faith said...

Ooh! I'm on a Spain kick (well I'm slowly reading Don Quixote and I read one other book about Spain. And I just watched There Be Dragons about St. Josemaria Escriva.) But I'm putting this on my tbr list! Though I don't like the anti-Catholic bit. One reason why the Church might have cozied up to Franco is because the Communists had a nasty habit of killing bishops, priests, monks and nuns. Kind of made them have to choose sides, if you know what I mean. . . .

The Bookworm said...

Faith, the author is a journalist on the Guardian newspaper, which is left-leaning and cynical about religion in general. If you know that is his bias it is fairly easy to discount for it when reading the book. And yes, faced with alternative the Catholic Church didn't have much choice but to be on Franco's side during the civil war, but I hate to see the Church too closely linked with either nationalism or a particular political party. Franco called his government National Catholicism. Ugh.