Seven days in Spain and Two Books

Garden at Los OlivillosMore loafing than walking was done this holiday thanks to temperatures in the high twenties. We were staying just outside Ferreirola, one of the Taha villages of the Alpujarras, at a smallholding run by the warm and very welcoming Surya. Part of the deal was a gorgeous garden complete with a hammock from which H had to be practically surgically removed. When we did manage a stroll I thought of Gerald Brenan striding out from Yegen, the Alpujarran village where he lived in the ‘20s, and walking a good sixty miles or so to Granada wearing hobnail boots as opposed to our fancy Gor-Tex-coated numbers.

Quite a bit of reading was done in the garden the best of which was undoubtedly Alexander Maksik’s debut You Deserve Nothing. I had high hopes of it after the wonderful A Marker to Measure Drift, reviewed in an earlier post, and was not disappointed. This one’s very different. Set in Paris in 2003, the year of the Iraq invasion, it’s about Will Silver, a charismatic English teacher who challenges his pupils to think for themselves and find their moral boundaries while overstepping his own. Clearly we’re in Dead Poets Society territory here but Maksik carries it off well telling his story from several points of view – Silver’s, the young woman he becomes involved with and the young man he disillusions– each throwing a subtly different light on events. And this holiday’s reading lowCover image point? Two-thirds of the way through, Jonathan Buckley’s Contact, the final third of which I was saving for the flight home, was left behind in the boot of our rental car. It’s a thriller and I will probably never know how it ends. I’ve a feeling that the young man who turns up on Dominic Pattison’s doorstep claiming to be his son was pulling a fast one but may be barking up entirely the wrong tree. If anyone out there knows the answer, please put me out of my misery.

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