Cry Mother Spain

Written by Ben Faccini (trans.) Lydie Salvayre
Review by Cathy Powell

This is a rather special book, as it is a daughter’s fictional re-creation of what her mother Montse went through in the summer of 1936, while living in a small village in Spain. Her mother is now elderly and suffers from dementia, but her memories of what went on during the Spanish Civil War are still intact. The book was originally written in French and has been translated recently into English, although there are times when Spanish quotes are inserted into the text along with relevant translations. This adds to the atmosphere of the book.

Given that Salvayre’s mother’s memory is impaired, she has also interspersed research of the situation at the time by giving details of how the author Georges Bernanos recorded what was occurring. The story weaves between Montse’s experiences as well as that of her close family members and then to the situation in general in Spain. The personal narrative that is shared gives a certain depth to the story. We are certainly enriched by being able to read what her experiences were like.