163 x 242 x 26mm
In 1987 when Miranda France spent a year in Madrid as a student, the new freedoms of post-Franco Spain were intoxicating: divorce, regional languages, contraceptives, kissing in the street, even the public consumption of drugs had become legal. At the university where in 1936 Republicans had fought Nationalists in hand-to-hand combat, girls with Snoopy folders now sat alongside men with well-washed hair and boat-shoes. Yet Madrid was also a mecca for fiery South American communists and moody Basque nationalists.
Against this background, Miranda France describes a love-affair with a Peruvian revolutionary, as well as a cast of characters - landladies, flatmates, neighbours, fellow students - that could have come from an epic novel.
Then in 1998 she returns to Spain, to revisit the countryside, towns and great cities of the centre - Madrid, Toledo, Avila, Segovia, Salamanca - and to discover how much has change in ten years. With the new prosperity, much has altered, and the old bargain between men and women is over. But many values have endured, as she learns from a private detective, a shepherd, various nuns, two belly dancers and a Castilian separatist, amongst others.
Alongside this narrative is her investigation into the world's first novel, Cervantes' 'Don Quixote' - published in 1605 and the most translated book after the Bible. She discovers a work of genius, a book that even modern Spaniards believe holds the key to their identity, their failings and triumphs.