Behind prison bars, Jose Martinez watches his fellow Republican comrades forced into a bullring and machine-gunned to death in the first days of the Spanish civil war. He wonders why his life was spared – or are the victorious soldiers of the Nationalist Army preparing a fate even worse for him? Decades in the making, the political and religious clash between progressive and conservative Spaniards has turned deadly.
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Like all civil wars, this one tears apart Jose’s family as well as the nation. Into the maelstrom comes sibling jealousy, disputes over beliefs, aggrieved betrayal, and simple lust – all threatening the togetherness of a family. Added to this turmoil is the dying, innocent request of Jose’s mother for him to make a spiritual pilgrimage for her to Santiago de Compostela – but at what cost?
While this story is a work of fiction, it reflects real events that happen to real people. The novel is intended for an American audience who share with the Spanish the memory of a civil war in their historical background. The cultural conflicts that gripped Spain three-quarters of a century ago find similar echoes in the present-day political environment of the United States.