Law of Return

Written by Rebecca Pawel
Review by Lorraine Gelly

It is 1940. The Spanish Civil War has finally ended, while the war in Europe heats up. Carlos Tejada, newly promoted to lieutenant in Spain’s Guardia Civil, leaves Madrid for his new post in Salamanca. One of the duties his ill-tempered new Captain has seen fit to impose on him is weekly meetings with the townspeople who are on parole. These people
are also subject to surveillance by the Guardia whenever they leave their homes.
Tejada’s last meeting of the day is with former Professor Fernandez who, after signing a petition which placed him politically at odds with the new government, has lost his position at the University. An old friend of the Fernandez family, a German Jew, has appealed to them to help him gain entry into Spain where he hopes to obtain passage to Mexico. When circumstances send Fernandez’s daughter, Elena, north alone to meet him, their plans appear doomed to fail until Lt. Tejada intervenes to help.
The author deftly portrays the turbulent times. Spain is raw and wounded after the ravages of the lengthy Civil War; the defeated and the victors are trying to learn to coexist and bring the suffering country together again. Rebecca Pawel, a Spanish teacher from Brooklyn, has brought all of the elements of the distrust of the era into a story of hope and love amidst the ruins of a great nation. This is the second in what hopefully will be a lengthy series.