Guernica, Paperback Book
2.5 out of 5 (5 ratings)


An extraordinary epic of love, family, and war set in the Basque town of Guernica before, during, and after its destruction by the German Luftwaffe during the Spanish Civil War.

In 1935, Miguel Navarro finds himself in conflict with the Spanish Civil Guard and flees the Basque fishing village of Lekeitio to make a new start in Guernica, the centre of Basque culture and tradition.

Once there, he finds more than just a new life -- he finds someone to live for.

Miren Ansotegui is the charismatic and graceful dancer he meets and the two discover a love they believe nothing can destroy ...Rich in the history of the region, the Red Baron, the Luftwaffe and even Picasso make appearances in Guernica as the fate of the Navarro family is traced through the early decades of the twentieth century. 'A heart-rending yet life-affirming story' Daily Mail


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Showing 1 - 5 of 5 reviews.

Review by

This wasn't a book that appealed to me initially, when Richard & Judy announced their last set of book club reads. But I changed my mind after looking at the book, as I thought it sounded like an interesting story of family and war, and looked reasonably easy to read. However, the first part was very slow, introducing a large cast of characters and skipping through their lives very quickly to cover a 30 year period in little depth. Eventually we got to the crux of the story, the bombing of Guernica, but by that time I cared little for the story or the characters, and what should have been a momentous event in the book seemed dulled somehow. By that stage I had started to skim read the story. The problem for me with this book is that the author doesn't inject a great deal of emotion into the story, and tries to give too much information and introduces too many characters in the first part of the book. It does end very well though, and I thought the ending was a nice touch.

Review by

In this novel, we get a very powerful picture of the bombing of Guernica by the Luftwaffe just before WWII, Through the portrayal of various characters, we experience the devastating loss and the cost of innocent human life caught up on a warped political stage. Boling cleverly weaves the story in a way that brings the whole historical context together and in so doing imprints this act of war in our consciousness and in our souls. Real characters such as Picasso appear in the book to enable a wider historical context, but it is the fictional characters that you get to know initimately and they in turn represent all the hundreds of people who lost their lives and the remaining members of the community who were left to try and rebuild what was left of their lives and the town.We get a strong sense of the region from the characters in their work on land or at sea and in their traditional Basque family lives. I thought that the story was beautifully written, although initially I found the introduction of real characters jarring in the way that the passages were inserted, seemingly out of context. However, as the novel progressed, I thought that the technique served the story well.I loved the romance of the story and the humour. I found that I read a lot of it with a smile on my face and then in the aftermath of the bombing, with more than a few tears in my eyes.

Review by

Justo, Minangeles, Miren and Miguel, Spain just before WW2

Review by

Guernica, Dave Boling’s first novel, is, as you might expect, about Guernica. From the outset, there is the faintest whiff of condescension toward Basques, as Boling’s language is inevitably simpler when writing their scenes as compared to those of other cultures. Maybe he is trying to give a sense of the language, but it comes across as condescension. Speaking of scenes, there aren’t many, in the traditional sense of the word. The prose is unfortunately journalistic—what you get is paragraphs, sometimes several pages (even whole chapters!) of reportage in which Boling’s voice is intrusively omnipresent. Characters do not have conversations; rather, Boling tells us something they said one time. He offers opinions and commentary in the narrative. As a result, the reader has no sense of engagement with the characters and the events of their lives in the here and now, no experience of plot and subplot unfolding through events, but reads with a sense of distance, of time long past and over with. As a result, what Boling has produced here is less a novel than a novel-length human interest article into which the reporter, à la Janet Cooke, has inserted some subjects of his own invention. On the other hand, Boling’s sense of place is phenomenal—he manages to weave in a great deal about the town and the culture without the reader feeling like she is attending a seminar on the Basque. Here is where Boling’s writing really shines: From reading his descriptions of the town, one feels like an old citizen who could slip back into the relationships and routines of Guernica as if one had never left. Bottom line, though, I couldn't finish it. I realize I'm in the minority here, but there you are.

Review by

I´ve only added this to my list in order to say that Dave Boling´s use of the English language is quite the worst I´ve ever come across. Had I not been determined to finish the book because it's my Reading Group title this month, I would have put it down at about page 30. Here are some of his many execrable sentences. The decay of will is an act of consideration.That didn´t stop Justo from operatically scapegoating the livestock whenever he committed an indiscretion of the bowels.On cows – Had it been their nature to reflect and expand, there would have been the genesis moments of bovine religious movements.His feral brows hung over his eyes like a pair of awnings, and the moustache that hyphenated his face was prodigious in three dimensions.The bodies of several dozen people rose intact to varied elevations before sprouting like chrysanthemum blossoms.

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