Forgotten Women by Freda Lightfoot is the story of the brave women of the International Brigade of the Spanish Civil War. It opens in Scotland, summer 1986, when an art gallery opens an exhibit featuring Spanish artist Ramón Peña Barros. Jo is the young curator when she is confronted with someone claiming that one of the paintings is a forgery. Anton Quintana Mendez has come to Scotland in the search of friends his grandmother knew during the Civil War and wants to see again before she dies. She learns that her grandmother, Libby, was a Scottish member of the International Brigade and when she confronts her grandmother with Anton’s claim, Libby refuses to speak about it. Jo is intrigued about the painting and her grandmother’s connection to the Spanish Civil War that she joins Anton in Spain to see his grandmother, Rosita. As Rosita tells her story, Jo and Anton learn about the horrific beginnings of the Civil War, the International Brigade who fought against the rising power of General Francisco Franco and fascism in Spain. The prison conditions, the daily reading of names who were facing the firing squad, and the fight for freedom. Will Jo learn who the painter Barros was? Will she learn her grandmother’s role in the war? Will there be parts of herself, of her family that she will uncover?
Forgotten Women is an interesting story about a part of history many do not learn about. The Spanish Civil War began July 17, 1936 and ended April 1, 1939 with General Franco in power of the Spanish government. The story was filled with suspense and little clues as to the identity of the artist Barros and the roles that these brave women accomplished during a turbulent time in Spanish history. The ending was surprising and enjoyable. I highly recommend Forgotten Women.
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