Hello readers! I would have written ‘today is my stop’ during the blog tours for Red Gene by Barbara Lamplugh, organized by Love Books Group, but I made mistake in entering wrong date in calendar and so I’m posting it today instead of yesterday. Thank God, I’m not too late!
Please check out the book details and snippet in this post. I’m sure historical fiction lover would not want to miss this.
Red Gene by Barbara Lamplugh
PUB DATE: 18th April 2019
Publisher: Urbane Publications
CATEGORY: Historical thriller fiction, romance
When Rose, a young English nurse with humanitarian ideals, decides to volunteer in the Spanish Civil War, she is little prepared for the experiences that await her.
Working on one front after another, witness to all the horrors of war, she falls in love with a Republican fighter, Miguel. In 1939 as defeat becomes inevitable, Rose is faced with a decision that will change her life and leave her with lasting scars.
Interspersed with Rose’s story is that of Consuelo, a girl growing up in a staunchly Catholic family on the other side of the ideological divide. Never quite belonging, treated unkindly, she discovers at a young age that she was adopted but her attempts to learn more about her origins are largely thwarted.
It falls to the third generation, to Consuelo’s daughter Marisol, born in the year of Franco’s death and growing up in a rapidly changing Spain, to investigate the dark secrets of her family and find the answers that have until now eluded her mother.
‘Quite simply, this is an enthralling novel with real historical heft.’ – Judith Keene
‘This is a touching tale of motherhood under pressure: of love, loss and reparation… a fascinating read’ – Jane Sullivan
‘An evocative story of Spain set against the background of civil war and its aftermath.’ – John Simmons, author of Spanish Crossings
Buy Link – https://amzn.to/2Cl4jQw
‘I’ve been waiting an hour for that wretched dressmaker. Where can she be?’ Mamá was pacing up and down, pausing every now and again to peer out of the window. ‘The fitting was promised for five o’clock!’
Hearing the rage in her mother’s voice, Consuelo tried to creep away. Making herself scarce was a skill she had learnt young, but this time Mamá had seen her and wasn’t going to let her escape.
‘Consuelo, where are you off to? Get your coat and run down to Manuela’s house. Tell her to come immediately and don’t listen to any excuses she might use to pull the wool over your eyes. I will not be treated with such lack of respect.
There was no disobeying Mamá. Consuelo made her way through the streets to the small, ramshackle house in the poor district where Manuela lived with her six children, and called out her name. She felt sorry for Manuela who, according to Mamá, had come down in the world since her husband, a clerk in the Town Hall, disappeared after the War and her two brothers were killed. The dressmaking wasn’t sufficient to support her family, so only one of the children could attend school. The others all worked on the land – sometimes for Consuelo’s father, sometimes for other landowners.
Occasionally, when she came to their house for fittings, Manuela would bring the youngest girl, Charo, and Consuelo would play with her. Charo liked to see her toys, especially the toy kitchen, which she thought was marvellous. She’d never seen one before. Her only toy was a tatty old papier-mâché doll called Pepona, which she nearly always brought with her. Pepona’s hair was just painted on and her dress was nailed to her back so you couldn’t change it. Her own doll, Mariquita Pérez – a present from Grandma on her Saint’s Day the year she was four – had real hair and eyelashes and several different dresses.
After shouting a few times to no effect, Consuelo pushed open the door and took a step inside Manuela’s house. It appeared deserted, completely silent except for the pecking of a small caged bird. Then from down the street, she heard running footsteps and loud sobs. Manuela flew into the house, her hair wild, her face ravaged with tears and grief.
‘They’ve taken him away!’ Her voice was choked. She hardly seemed aware of Consuelo standing there. ‘They’ve taken my Fernando, I’ll never see him again. Ay Dios, what will we do now?’ She beat her fists against the wall until blood started to drip from them, streaking the wall red.
‘What are you doing here?’ Manuela had suddenly woken up to her presence.
Consuelo stepped out of the shadows. What could she say? In the face of Manuela’s distress, it was impossible to deliver the message she’d been charged with.
‘I’m sorry about Fernando,’ she said. But that only started Manuela off again, weeping and wailing and calling on all the saints to help save her eldest son, who’d done no wrong in his whole life, the eighteen years since his birth. God knew he was a good boy…
Consuelo edged towards the door, hoping to slip out unnoticed. She would tell Mamá Manuela was away from home and couldn’t be found.
But just as she reached the doorway, Manuela grabbed her arm and pulled her back in. ‘What am I to do, child?’ she beseeched, clinging to Consuelo. ‘Haven’t I already lost my Reynaldo and two brothers? What have we done to deserve this? Ay, six of us still to feed and no man to help me…’
Consuelo knew Mamá wouldn’t pay Manuela, even though the dress was nearly finished – not unless she came quickly for the fitting. ‘My mother was expecting you.’ Her voice faltered. ‘The dress…’
Manuela clapped her hands to her head. ‘Today was it, child?’ she cried. ‘But how can I think of these things when my Fernando…?’ She seemed about to resume her lament, but realising the likely consequences if she ignored the call, she abruptly pulled herself together. ‘Then I must go,’ she said. ‘Run home and tell your mamá I’ll be there in fifteen minutes.’ A final sob escaped her as Consuelo nodded and backed out of the house.
As she hurried past the other workers’ hovels in the direction of her own home, which now struck her as a palace, Consuelo spotted Charo in the distance. She was walking barefoot with a slight limp, heading back from the fields, and Consuelo thought how sore her feet must be from the rough ground. Didn’t she even have any rubber albarcas? They would have been better than nothing. She supposed the family were too poor to buy alpargatas. If she could find a pair of her old, outgrown ones, she would give them to Charo.
We saved you from a harsh and wretched life. Consuelo still remembered Mamá’s words on that day three years ago when Francisco told her she was adopted. Although no more had been said on the subject, the words had stuck in her mind. Now, thinking about the harsh life endured by Manuela and her family, it occurred to her that perhaps she had been lucky to have Mamá and Papá take her in and save her from a life of poverty and deprivation.
Besides, her real mother didn’t want her. For weeks after being told, she had cried herself to sleep every night – until finally she had managed to push the hurt and anger away and harden herself, leaving only a lingering bitterness that mostly stayed buried. Perhaps Uncle Rodrigo had wanted to spare her the pain of knowing her mother was wicked and that was why he pretended not to remember. Because according to Francisco, her mother was a red. Consuelo wondered if, like the pharmacist and others she knew in the town, her mother had been taken away to prison and never seen again.
Barbara Lamplugh was born and grew up in London. An experienced traveller, she described her journeys in ‘Kathmandu by Truck’ and ‘Trans-Siberia by Rail’ published by Roger Lascelles. In 1999, spurred by the challenge of living in a different culture, she headed for Granada in Spain, where she still lives, inspired by views of hills and the Alhambra from her sunny terrace. A regular features writer for the magazine ‘Living Spain’, she has also written for ‘The Guardian’, ‘The Times’ and published her first novel Secrets of the Pomegranate in 2015.
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