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Sandra Bruna Literary Agency

MY SUMMERS THAT WON’T COME BACK

Author: Sandra Bruna Friday 16 September 2022

Starting the blog season with a book by Maria Barbal is a true privilege. I have already expressed on several occasions my admiration for this author since I read PEDRA DE TARTERA.

Her latest work, TÀNDEM, sold in Italy, Slovenia and Germany, was a pleasant surprise for me as a reader. Despite discovering a different María, the literary quality we are used to remains.
 
This novel, AL LLAC has managed to awaken memories and longings of my own summers. Always with my two siblings, fifteen days at the beach and fifteen days in the mountains with my grandparents. I’m sure I have these idealised memories, but even today when I think about it, my heart is still pounding both with emotion and sadness. Partly because we will never be able to have those summers again, and partly because our children have not been able to experience them. And although they don’t miss them, because theirs were also wonderful, we know that ours were exceptional, and I can undoubtedly say that it was one of the happiest times of my life. The main character of this novel reminds me of myself and my wish to be older, when we should have enjoyed every moment without thinking so much about the future.
 
The novel is set in the 1960s. Nora, a twelve-year-old girl, has the delightful experience of going to the lake on Sundays, a very beautiful and peaceful place with changing colours. She goes with a group of adults and Quim, a seven-year-old boy. They all have their desires, and she observes them, although she doesn’t always understand them. Even so, because of a conflict between the grown-ups and Quim’s audacity, the last morning at the lake Nora will suddenly wake up from her childhood.
 
The story is set in Tremp and in the Sant Antoni reservoir, where the author relives her childhood memories. Within this framework, she explores the confrontation of children with adults and adults with each other in an attempt to capture each one’s affections. According to the author, “people are very complex and it is very difficult to be happy”. And as I get older, I realise that she is absolutely right. This feeling is a constant in María Barbal’s characters, who are not only children, but also two couples and a grandmother. In addition, there is a geographical protagonist: the lake, which also has its own story.
 
A short, intense, and emotional novel about nostalgia, beauty, the passing of time and the meaning of happiness.
 
A tender book to end the summer, to celebrate it and to remember the essential experiences of life. A little gem, Maria Barbal’s signature.

THE THREADS OF MAGIC

Author: Sandra Bruna Wednesday 20 July 2022

Representing an author like Vanessa R. Migliore has provided me with a fresh and new perspective on the fantasy genre. At Sandra Bruna Literary Agency we have had the chance to represent big names in American fantasy literature such as Rick Riordan, Shelby Mahurin, or Roshani Chokshi, among many others, but Spanish authors who write this type of novels have been largely unappreciated, with the exception of a few, who were very successful. This is why The City of Death is so important: it proves that Vanessa’s voice is every bit as good as theirs. She has crafted a story where magic acts as the common thread. Through the pages of her book, she takes us into a world where not all magic is good and where the protagonists must discover how far they are able to go. 

The author brings us to the city of Cyrene, home of the Goddess of Death and powerful cradle of modern society. Three kinds of magic existed in the world. First there was shadow magic, which all summoners made use of and represented a significant portion of the population. Then there was shadow magic, a type of gift not seen on the continent for decades that could read and influence emotions. And finally, arcane magic, a supposedly extinct and dangerous type of power that Asia could control and which was believed to be a type of disease, because it drove anyone who could distinguish the threads of life to madness. 

The mystery has awakened: first, there were the puzzling deaths with strange black marks on corpses. Then came the cases of people vanishing, who no one knew how to explain. Everything seems to point to a magic that was thought to be extinct, an ancient magic which has returned and is now claiming victims. 

Kaia is a summoner marked by misfortune. When a corpse appears with strange marks that evoke a magic that has already disappeared, the safety of the summoners’ world is put to the test. Together with Medea, a summoner who has lived under the pressure of her family’s expectations, and Ariadne, a frustrated writer, Kaia will cross the boundaries of what is proper to discover what lurks in the darkest places of the city.

The City of Death has sold out its first edition in less than a month. In addition, it has brought the discovery of an extraordinary Spanish voice in one of the best-selling genres at the moment. Don’t you want to know more about her?

If you can’t wait any longer to read it, you can get it here.

STRONG WOMEN, BRAVE WOMEN

Author: Sandra Bruna Wednesday 13 July 2022

This week, like last, we’re dealing with a historical novel. These past few months, we have been lucky enough to bring several great novels of this genre into the publishing market. In Blood Ties , Ramon Gasch and Teresa Sagrera work hand in hand to give voice to war heroines who were unknown up until recently. They were called ‘Las Bárbaras’ and were the women who fought for Gerona during the Napoleonic siege.

Marta lives happily with her husband and son in 1808 Gerona when, one fine day, a group of Napoleonic soldiers enter the city. Initially, it looks like a friendly enough entrance…

When the Treaty of Fontainebleau was signed, Spain and France agreed that they would unite to conquer Portugal and then split the territory among them. But to think that Napoleon would pass through the peninsula simply as an ally without attempting to conquer it was naive. The city of the four rivers was the victim of a great tragedy: a siege that caused thousands of deaths and the destruction of a large part of the city. Marta, like so many other women, is forced to face a merciless war and, after overcoming the initial shock, decides that she will do whatever it takes to defend and protect her world.

Blood Ties speaks of the often forgotten but decisive role women played in the defense and recovery of the city, and how they heroically organized themselves into a military company called ‘Las Bárbaras’. They stood out from the crowd because they wore a blood-red ribbon tied to their left arm, and because they fought fiercely to defend their city and their people.

This is yet another novel about brave women who, once again, demonstrate that although their role has always been in the background, they are able to do things which society does not even imagine to defend what they consider of their own. These two authors have a great mastery when it comes to writing about historical characters, and have managed to create a fast-paced, impactful novel, which will undoubtedly please lovers of the genre.

THE POWER OF THE WRITTEN WORD

Author: Sandra Bruna Wednesday 6 July 2022

Writing this blog every week is not as easy as it may seem. For me, all my authors are equally important and each work we publish has a beautiful story behind it. It’s a <<we start from scratch>> situation every time for us. We start to build something not knowing how it will turn out in the end, like someone making clay figurines who starts with a mere piece of dough and shapes it to his liking to get a beautiful shape at the end of the process. Our job as an agency is similar, because with each author we represent, we open a different box, full of ideas and words, which will likely result in a new book. Each box is a different and wonderful world, and I can only say that it is a luxury to be part of this process, and it is what makes my job so enjoyable.

José Antonio lives in Rota, so I don’t get to see him much, but I think his writing is magical. When we received his first novel, Life in a minute, we immediately fell in love with it, but when he told me about the subject matter of The War Godmother, which he has just published with Ediciones B, it blew me away. Throughout the book, José Antonio introduced me to a historical figure which I was personally unaware of. I am talking about the so-called war godmothers, who played an important role in the Spanish Civil War.

Madrid, 1936. Aurora has just come of age and works as a nurse in a turbulent city that is barely holding up against fire and war bombs. In this violent climate, she decides to contribute to the cause on the Republican front and begins to write letters to a young soldier, Teófilo, thus becoming —like many other women of the time— a war godmother. In each letter, the two of them will find a refuge in which to express the fears and secrets they cannot say aloud, while discovering a love they had never imagined. However, in a war full of intrigue and espionage, where everyone is a potential suspect, the written word can become the most dangerous weapon…

Years later, isolated in the silence of the post-war period, Teófilo finds out that Aurora is still alive and does not hesitate to try to recover the person who, amidst fire and gunpowder, made the feelings os love, calm and peace blossom within him. This story is a tribute to all those women who used words as one uses rifles and managed to bring strength and hope to soldiers in the war front. Can a love letter change your life?

The power of words is infinite. I know it might sound romantic, or even corny, but transmitting and receiving news through writing had a certain charm. I have always loved being able to express my feelings in my own handwriting. I sent many letters to friends, and even to boyfriends from my teenage years, which I still keep. And that effort, to spill your feelings on paper, were moments that one enjoyed with oneself. It is something very real, and at the same time very beautiful. It is one of the reasons why giving a voice to war godmothers was so necessary.

José Antonio manages to do it with such skill that this novel deserves to be widely read. Every line catches your attention and doesn’t let you go. Once again, I congratulate this author, who outdoes himself with his second novel, even though the first one was already at a very high level. If you haven’t read it yet, you can start with either of the two, because it will certainly leave an impression and you will have a wonderful time, which is what summer reading is all about.

FRANCESCA AND BARCELONA

Author: Sandra Bruna Wednesday 29 June 2022

Writing this blog post makes me very happy for three reasons. The first is that Laia Perearnau, a new author of the agency, and, therefore, a new voice, wins a prestigious award such as the Nèstor Luján, a prize par excellence for historical novels. The second reason is the fact of having received a literary award, since as an agency we are always excited about it. The last reason is that the story in Francesca de Barcelona has a brutal hook, and my intuition tells me that it will bring us much joy.

Barcelona, year 1382. Francesca is a fifteen-year-old Christian girl who helps her grandmother, Bonanada, who works as a midwife. Her grandmother teaches her the secrets of the trade and introduces her to the world of healing plants, but that is not enough for the protagonist. Although she lives in a very humble environment, she is determined to become a doctor and a surgeon. There is only one problem: this profession is exclusively for men and making a place for herself is almost impossible.

Thanks to her profession as a midwife, she often visits Callo (the Jewish quarters of the city). There she meets Astruc, a Jewish boy who comes from a family of doctors and wants to study medicine. The two will come to an agreement to share their knowledge: Francesca will teach him everything she knows about plants and he will give her access to his books. But medicine is not Francesca’s only passion: she is in love with Martí, her childhood friend, and this love will mark the transition into adult life, which will be full of obstacles, love, betrayal and passion.

Based on a true story and with an absolutely dazzling narration, Francesca de Barcelona skillfully takes us into 14th century Barcelona, a time when diseases were wreaking havoc among the population. In this novel, Laia Perearnau creates a moving account of the life of an extraordinary woman, full of determination, who fought tirelessly against the limits imposed on women of her time.

I think it is an ideal novel to read this summer and be very satisfied, because we already know the success of medieval times, the city of Barcelona and a brave woman as a protagonist, who really existed. For lovers of historical novels, Francesca de Barcelona will be a cocktail in which no ingredient is missing.



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