The Poet’s Wife by Rebecca Stonehill Review
The Poet’s Wife is a wonderful family saga story set in Spain at the time of the Civil War.
Granada, 1920. Free-spirited Luisa and young poet Eduardo fall in love, cementing a bond that can never be broken.
Behind the jasmine filled courtyard, perched amongst houses like clouds on a hilltop, stands a beautiful villa; Carmen de las Estrellas. Beneath its walls live Eduardo and Luisa with their thriving family, but war is looming, casting its shadow over the household.
When Civil War finally breaks out, Luisa and Eduardo must fiercely protect those dear to them. Yet these are turbulent times, and as each of their children begin to make their way in the world, the solace of home cannot shield them from the horrors of war.
The Poet’s Wife is an extraordinary piece of storytelling spanning over fifty years – a heart-wrenching novel of a family devastated by war but bound together by love, loss and hope, told through the eyes of three remarkable women.
This is such a beautiful novel. The story starts with Luisa and Eduardo, and their early life as a married couple and bringing up their large family. Eduardo is a poet, and both Luisa and Eduardo are free-thinking individuals. They are keen to see Spain as a republic, and initially rejoice when the Republic is announced. However things quickly do not go well in Spain and Civil War is announced. When she is 16, Isabel, Luisia’s oldest daughter, leaves the home to become a nurse for the republicans, and her experiences shape her as a person. Family life continues throughout the war, and when Franco wins the war and their lives become even more restricted, despite the difficulties life continues at Carmen des Estrellas. Franco’s reign continues well into the 1970’s, and Luisa, Isabel and the family’s lives are shadowed by this. Tragedy, Love and heartbreak all occur but the family stay strong throughout. You hear the story of the family through the eyes of three generations.
The book moves quickly, and the pace is kept up throughout. I felt that the important aspects of the story were kept in focus, and other less important aspects of the family life were described but not in too much detail – what I mean is that there were no ‘boring’ bits where there was reams of description or the story going off on a tangent. The hope the initial first part of the story brings, and the crushing disappointment of the war and subsequent Franco government, as well as the fear of the regime is so well described and written. You feel like you get to know this family, and become attached to them and what they do. I did not know much about the Spanish Civil War, or the Franco era, so to read this made the book even more interesting to me. I can’t believe that the Spanish People lived under that regime for so long – well into the 70’s – and how this must have been for them. The love story elements of the novel are intensified by the background of the war and the Franco regime, and there are some rather intense love scenes which I think really highlight the ‘now or never’ thinking people must have felt during the war, or of being repressed by the regime. I loved the way three generations tell the story, and how we see things from three perspectives.
It was a joy to read this book, it is written very well and the description is, well, poetic. it was refreshingly different and easy to read, so much so I didn’t want it to end. This is a fabulous debut novel by Rebecca and I will be very keen to read more from her in the future.
I give The Poet’s Wife 4 out of 5 stars.
The Poet’s Wife is published on 26th September by Bookoture.
I was sent an electronic copy of The Poet’s Wife in order to undertake this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.