Spanish sojourn 4 – books, cooks, and trucks

In between rescuing Tosca and numerous vet visits, and putting new tyres on the Landy, I did read a few books.

Susan Toy, from Reading Recommendations, suggested a book I might like.

I think it’s a bit risky recommending books to me, so Susan gets bravery points. More importantly she gets a commendation as I enjoyed it.

A Reading Recommend
A Reading Recommend

The Lost Baggage of Silvia Guzmán by Mike Robbins

It’s fair to say I do lean towards Hispanic books. I did even before I lived in Spain. When I read the preview on Amazon, I decided it was a book worth reading. I loved the intro. As I told Mike, it sounded very García Márquez to me. That wonderful descriptive heady intro where you are immediately transported into an atmosphere of waiting for something to happen.

And happen it did. Quickly and brutally as you would expect in Colombia. I think it was Colombia as Bogotá was mentioned.

But the bulk of the novel is set in England, and looks at middle class morality – or lack of, hypocrisy (lots of that), drug use, the arty literary intellectual circle, journalism, feminism, etc. What’s not to like in that for me?

Mike wrote the book in the nineties after he had travelled to South America although it wasn’t published until much later. Sensibly, he left it as he wrote it at the time. The only minor problem being that it was originally typed and the scanning software created some odd typos. Anyway, they don’t get in the way of the story.

The two main characters are Silvia who escapes to London after a coup in her country, and as I referred to earlier, the educated middle-class society. No point retelling the story, but as someone who has lived in London, worked in journalism, mixed in pretentious middle-class circles, it rang pretty true to me, although I kept away from the drug thing.

Mike is a journalist turned development worker. I’m pleased to say it’s a well written book with some clever and subtle satire. I was beginning to lose hope in journalists writing books as some are just appalling. However Mike’s style is good and this book is worth a read. Recommended.

An Honest House by Cynthia Reyes

On the subject of journos writing books, I’ve been reading a draft of Cynthia Reyes’ new book; it’s the sequel to her popular first book, A Good Home. Cynthia is another journalist who has turned her professional talents to authorship. Seemingly effortlessly, but a read of her book tells the reader how difficult it really was. I’ll be reviewing the second volume of her memoirs when it’s published.


A brief food break, because when I wasn’t reading I was cooking, recipes for these are included on the pages at the top under salads (aïgroissade) and beans (refried beans).


One Man No Plan by MT McGuire

And on sequels, Kev published a review of MT McGuire’s second book in the K’Barthan Series: The Wrong Stuff. Kev’s review sums up the book nicely, so you can read that. Which leads me onto One Man No Plan, the third book in the series, and for me, the hardest hitting. There is violence, but it’s not gratuitous. It’s almost minimalist, and perhaps because of that, doubly effective. Just like the romance in TWS isn’t soppy, the violence is part of the story, but doesn’t have you reaching for the sick bucket. And always, there is humour. There’s an interesting point about the suffragettes and Emily Davison; recent studies suggest Davison didn’t intend to throw herself under the king’s horse at Epsom, rather she was pinning a suffragette sash on the horse. Amazing what you learn from spec-fic novels. It’s a good read, as are the other books in this series. Also recommended.

Men Who Hate Women by Stieg Larsson

And still with a tangential feminist link, well half the world does consist of women, remember? Even if we aren’t exactly proportionately represented. I discovered I’d had a freebie from Am and had downloaded The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo some time back.

Thanks to everyone who commented about the Fire Girl, here are my views on Dragon Girl.

This was the book that Larsson called in Swedish, Men Who Hate Women.

You can’t call a book that in English of course, because a) it won’t sell b) it’s true and c) because of b) it definitely won’t sell. Nobody likes to admit that there are men out there who enjoy raping and killing women. But they do. Sure, some people kill men, but it ain’t the same thing.

Anyway, was it good? Yes. I thought it was. I was actually turning the pages on the iPad at the end waiting to see how it would work out. Nice pacing and tension.

Fantastical how it all worked out? Maybe. But a good story and a good read, although the translating raises a few questions. And there’s no doubt that Larsson was concerned about violence against women, rape, and murder of women.

I was left wondering about his character of Blomkvist. Why did he have a lead male character who wasn’t interested in monogamy? Was Larsson suggesting monogamy was something of a societal puritanical bourgeois ethic? Or did he just not care about women’s emotions? Because Blomkvist left a few damaged women behind him. Is that really the way a good feminist ally works? Providing sex and ignoring anything else? What does that reduce us to?

One could dig a very deep hole pondering these issues.

Speaking of which …

Not one to fall down.


37 comments on “Spanish sojourn 4 – books, cooks, and trucks

  1. Delighted you enjoyed One! Also some interesting recommendations there. I think I’ve read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo but I will have to double check and put that right if I haven’t. Lost Baggage looks a good one too. I’ll have to look that up.




  2. Stieg Larsson seems to figure a lot on the shelves of booksellers. I keep wanting to try one – but my novel reading rate has declined from three or four a week to that number in a year.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey, thanks for the shout on my review… I’m deeply honoured! Love, Dragon Tattoo Girl, but I’m sure I’ve mentioned that to you before, so won’t drone on. ;) I like the ‘riginals! :D

    Oh my… that looks like long, hard, physical work… I’m having a reaction already! :D


  4. No falling down! And you didn’t with the book reviews. Baggage does sound good. We’ve got a few Silvias who escaped from Colombia here. Interesting this book was written and held back.
    Thrown under the horse by a sash? I love it when writers toss out odd bits.
    Enjoyed your reviews ( thanks for the food ideas) now onward into more fog here today


    • I tell you I am freaked about the walking. I am so slow.

      Don’t know any Silvias! But not so much held back, as published later. AFAIK.

      I thought that was a great bit. I got totally distracted looking up Davison. Really interesting.

      Lovely fog. Lovely food. Lovely books. Thanks. Embrace and dwell in them all.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I enjoyed Mike’s book. Amidst all the bizarre books that amound, it was a decent read. Interesting and well written.

      But, Larsson is good too, if you like hard-hitting books.

      I’ve not read Cynthia’s first either. She said it wasn’t necessary to read her second, so I deliberately didn’t. Based on the one I’ve read though, her writing is excellent.

      Fit? Lol.


  5. As you know, I’m also a Larson fan, having read the entire trilogy at one sitting. I had / have the same questions about Blomkvist. He clearly knew that Fire / Dragon Girl is wounded / damaged goods…. So sorry that there will be no more Larson. Wonder how he might have developed Blomkvist, if at all.


  6. Interesting stuff to consider for my Spain ride list. So far, Javier Marias “Thus bad begins” , “So long, see you tomorrow” William Maxwell and “Kidnapped” by RLS (for old times sake), I just might add “Lost Baggage..” for the Garcia Marquez reference.


    • Kidnapped?! I’ve tried to read most of the classics in English about Spain and I occasionally dip into Spanish fiction. Lost baggage starts off García ish but to be fair, the tone changes when it moves to England. Still good though.


  7. Interesting list. Haven’t read any. Your description of Lost Baggage grabs me the most, although I’m not sure I want more of middle class morality and hypocrisy than we already have around here. On the other hand I will probably relate to it better :) Our supreme court upheld the right of women to enter all temples just last week, and today one of our states bans women from wearing skirts into bars!!!
    Stay safe :)


    • Laughing about wanting no more hypocrisy. It’s everywhere. Probably easier to poke fun at middle class ‘values’ and ‘ethics’.

      There was some news recently in ?? can’t remember the country, about girls should wear longer skirts to avoid distracting male teachers and boy students. I despair.

      Thanks. You too.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. What’s with the ‘follow this blog’ deal… I’ve been following your blog from all my sites, forever! Bloody WordPress! :D


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