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Author: Sandra Bruna Thursday 15 October 2020

This week we should be in Frankfurt, but because of the Covid-19 pandemic we have not been able to travel and the fair must be virtual.  It is not the same, but it still has positive things, because all in life has a positive side. However, one of the things that this pandemic is teaching me is to value the things that I want and have, because when you do not have them you miss them. So, we must give value to what sometimes, out of pure routine, we do not value, and now, for me, memories are a brutal avalanche of emotions. I remember moments, places, and people, and my heart starts racing. I am moved by many things and it seems that I feel in a stronger way, although I always thought that I already was a person who feels too much, just like the protagonist of the new novel by Ana Alcolea, EL BRINDIS DE MARGARITA, published by Harper Collins. 

Margarita returns to her hometown to empty her parents’s house, a 1960s apartment in a working-class neighbourhood. In the meantime, the media is filled up with the exhumation of Franco’s body, which marked the lives of so many generations of the Spanish people. Of the four people who lived in that house, only Margarita remains. Her grandmother, her mother and her father have died in this order. She is an only child and is now left to do all the tasks on her own. Neither her husband nor her son accompanies her on this extreme journey, which is one of personal gain.

The smells that come from the clothes, the taste of the older drinks, the old passports, the books…  will transport her to different moments of her past life in the flat. Her own blame and the ghosts of the past that live in her memory are mixed with the history that marks her family’s life: a grandmother that lived all the wars of the century, a mother and a father that grew up in a post-war country that castrated their dreams; and herself, the protagonist and narrator in the first person, who was thirteen when the dictator died. Her memories fill the empty house, and through them, we can understand the attitudes of her family and herself with all that was happening in those years of the Transition in a better way. A novel full of nostalgia but at the same time a hard one, full of love and sorrow, a novel with feelings that give you goose bumps. The trademark of the novel is clearly one of the great times of Spain’s recent history: The Transition. But the most important thing is to get to know Margarita and her family, to see how they lived, how they sat and how they wrote their lives, which were not easy. But it is even more important to never give up living, right?

Everyone who has read Ana, knows that she has true passion for writing, that she is pleasant, and that her demands are huge. She has written for children, for young people and for her first time she is writing for adults, even though she has overcome the difficult test, because the smallest fans are always the ones who demand the most, entering the adult world is always a challenge, and Ana has done it in an amazing way, because she has been able to gift with these characters that feel, that create emotions to the public, achieving that the story itself becomes more important than the historical mark, which is shown in a very well narrated and documented way, but what remains in the reader are these smells, these memories of a time that has been the time of many citizens in Spain. Thank you Ana for not having written just any other novel, for having written with soul. Not all novels have soul, and that is the complicated part of writing, and here, Ana excels.

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