Forthcoming and recent releases

(p) paperback (l) hardback/large paperback depending on availability

Each month, we provide our Hotlist of titles. Some are entirely new, others are moving into small paperback format for the first time or being reissued, sometimes after a long time out of print. All are due for publication on various dates that month, or early in the next one. The Hotlist helps local readers to plan and budget for book ordering. Here are some recent lists and highlights of Spain-related books from older ones...


OCTOBER 2017

The latest in Dan ‘Da Vinci Code’ Brown’s series of thrillers featuring Professor Robert Langdon is Origin (l). It kicks off at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and moves on at hectic pace to Barcelona in a tale blending a scientific breakthrough, a world-shattering revelation, hidden history, an ancient religion, a cryptic password and a tormented enemy out to eliminate Langdon and his sidekick.

It leads off our latest Hotlist of titles, some entirely new, others moving into small paperback format for the first time or being reissued, sometimes after a long time out of print. All of them are due for publication on various dates this month and in early November. The Hotlist helps readers to plan and budget for book ordering, particularly with the gift-giving season ahead.

Other thrillers worth a look include: Don’t Let Go (l), by Harlan Coben; The Mountain (l), by Luca D’Andrea; Manhattan Beach (l), by Jennifer Egan; The Rooster Bar (l), by John Grisham; Need You Dead (p), by Peter James; Reckless Creed (p), by Alex Kava; Prussian Blue (p), a Bernie Gunther thriller by Philip Kerr; Cross The Line (p), an Alex Cross novel from James Patterson; The Silent Companions (l), by Laura Purcell; and Midnight At The Bright Ideas Bookstore (l), by Matthew Sullivan;

The Temptation To Be Happy (p), by Lorenzo Marone, is a feel-good tale of late life. Cesare, 77, a widower and cynical troublemaker, has lived life by his own rules with no intention of changing. Aside from an intermittent fling with a nurse, he spends his days avoiding the old cat-lady next door and screening calls from his children. But when the enigmatic Emma moves in next door with her strange and sinister husband, Cesare suspects there is more to their relationship than meets the eye. He enlists other residents to help him investigate and discovers a new and unexpected sense of purpose leading him to risk everything for a future he had never thought possible.

Other fiction titles worth considering include: The Terranauts (p), by TC Boyle; Christmas At Little Beach Street Bakery (p), by Jenny Colgan; The Sparsholt Affair (l), by Alan Hollinghurst; The Witches Of New York (p), by Ami McKay; Secrets Of A Happy Marriage (p), by Cathy Kelly; Homegoing (p), by Yaa Gyasi; Fever Dream (p), by Samanta Schweblin (p); The Mountain Between Us (p), by Charles Martin, which is now a major film starring Idris Elba and Kate Winslet; A Book Of American Martyrs (p), by Joyce Carol Oates; and Echoland (p), by Per Petterson;

Joan Fallon, the Axarquía-based writer, will be signing copies this month of The Ring Of Flames, the last book in her Al-Andalus series, at Smiffs Books & Card Shop in Nerja at 11.00 on the morning of Thursday, October 19. Come along and meet her!

The book begins in the year 1008 AD with al-Mansur, the despotic ruler of al-Andalus dead. Civil war looms as pretenders to the throne battle for supremacy of the Omayyad dynasty. Amid the turmoil, Ahmad continues to look after the falcons, but is torn between concern for his family’s safety and his loyalty to al-Hisham, the rightful caliph. The city of Córdoba is surrounded and the palace of Madinat al-Zahra is in ruins. There seems to be no escape, until help comes from an unexpected ally.

Back in the real world, new history titles include The Hundred Thousand Sons of St Louis (h), Ralph Weaver’s detailed account of the French military campaign in Spain from April to October, 1823. France invaded with 100,000 men after a revolution in Spain in 1820 brought in a 'Liberal' government and the Spanish parliament held Ferdinand, their king, a virtual prisoner. Ferdinand appealed for help from the French, who were supported by an army of Spanish Royalists. The publisher says there has been no book on this in any language since 1824 despite the war restoring France to a position as one of the leading world powers.

!No Pasaran!: Writings From The Spanish Civil War (p), by Pete Ayrton, moves into paperback. It draws most heavily on writers from Spain itself, including Mercè Rodoreda (1908–1983), Javier Cercas and Luis Buñuel.

Among this month’s cookery books, Catalonia: Recipes From Barcelona And Beyond (h), by Jose Pizarro, presents just what the title suggests. Aside from traditional plates, it includes some delicious recipes that may be new to you: duck egg and mushroom stew, roast chicken with langoustines, baby squid with mint, civet of venison with ceps and mash, and hazelnut and plum cake. Monika Linton’s Brindisa: The True Food of Spain (l) is published mid-month.

The Peñín Guide To Spanish Wine 2018 (p) is a fantastic compilation that explores wine-growing, considering regional environmental factors and grape varieties, and instructs readers on the basics of wine tasting, storing and appreciation.

In The Wines of Northern Spain (p), leading authority Sarah Jane Evans looks at wines from Galicia to the Pyrenees and Rioja to the Basque country. She throws in a history of the region’s wine-making then, taking each sub-region in turn, discusses key producers and their top wines. This is aimed at anyone interested in Spanish wine, from students and professionals to wine tourists.

Walkers take note that The Discovery Walking Guides book on the mountains behind us is at last available in print again, but under a new title, Walk! Costa del Sol (Axarquía). A 1:40,000-scale tour and trail map covering both the east and west Costa Del Sol on separate sides, but with a generous overlap, can be bought separately. It is a ‘super-durable’ version intended to be more resistant than plain paper to splitting or falling apart. It folds to a pocketable 120 mm by 240 mm.

Cicerone Press is meanwhile releasing The Sierras of Extremadura (l) by Gisela Radiant Wood. It includes 32 half- and full-day walks in western Spain’s hills. Rick Steves Spain 2018 (p) is a new edition of the popular travel guidebook.



SEPTEMBER 2017


A Legacy Of Spies (l) returns to the characters of ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’, John le Carré’s most famous espionage novels. Peter Guillam, staunch colleague and disciple of George Smiley of the UK Secret Service has retired to his family farmstead on the south coast of Brittany when a letter from his old employer summons him to London. His Cold War past has come back to claim him. Intelligence operations that were once the toast of secret London are to be scrutinised by a generation with no memory of the Cold War. Somebody must be made to pay for innocent blood once spilled in the name of the greater good.

Staying in covert mood, Munich (l) is Robert Harris’ spy thriller about treason and conscience, loyalty and betrayal, filled with real-life characters and actual events. Set over four days against the backdrop of the Munich Conference of September 1938, the book follows the fortunes of two men who were friends at Oxford together in the 1920s. Hugh Legat is a rising star of the UK diplomatic service, serving as private secretary to the UK Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain. Paul von Hartmann is on the staff of the German Foreign Office, and secretly a member of the anti-Hitler resistance.

Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series, which began with the global publishing phenomenon The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, has been continued by David Lagercrantz in The Girl Who Takes An Eye For An Eye (l). Lisbeth Salander is not prone to forgiveness. She has been forged by a brutal childhood, horrific abuse, and repeated attempts on her life. Her dragon tattoo is a constant reminder of her pledge to fight against injustice. Confinement to a secure unit in a women’s prison is intended as a punishment. Instead, Lisbeth finds herself in relative safety. Flodberga is a failing jail, effectively controlled by the inmates: for a computer hacker of her exceptional gifts there are no boundaries.

Other thrillers worth a look include: Robert B Parker’s Debt To Pay (p), a Jesse Stone novel by Reed Farrel Coleman; The Seagull (l), a Vera Stanhope novel by Ann Cleeves; Rhyming Rings (p), by David Gemmell; The Saboteur (l), by Andrew Gross; A Cold Case In Amsterdam Central (p), by Anja De Jager; Thirst (l), by Jo Nesbø; Haunted (l), by James Patterson; and Secrets In Death (l), by JD Robb.

Among the romantic fiction titles is The Living Infinite (l), by Cuban-American Chantel Acevedo, a tale inspired by the true story of Spanish princess Eulalia, an outspoken firebrand at the Bourbon court during the troubled final years of her family reign. After her cloistered childhood, her youth spent in exile, and loveless marriage, she willingly accepts a role as royal emissary in the New World. She travels in the company of Thomas Aragon, the son of her former wet nurse and a small-town bookseller with a thirst for adventure, voyaging by ship to a Cuba bubbling with revolutionary fervour and then to the 1893 Chicago World Fair. As far as others are concerned, she is there as an emissary of the Bourbon dynasty and a guest of the Fair. Secretly, she is in America to find a publisher for her scandalous, incendiary autobiography, a book that might well turn the Old World order on its head.

In the history book Gibraltar (l), Roy and Lesley Adkins zone in in on what they call ‘The Greatest Siege in British History’. This is an epic page-turner, rich in dramatic human detail: a tale of courage, endurance, intrigue, desperation, greed and humanity. The everyday experiences of all those involved are brought vividly to life with eyewitness accounts and expert research. For more than three and a half years, from 1779 to 1783, the tiny territory of Gibraltar was besieged and blockaded, on land and at sea, by the overwhelming forces of Spain and France. It became the longest siege in UK history and was blamed there for the loss of the country’s American colonies in the War of Independence.

Motorcycle racing is a passion in Spain, a country which has lain at the heart of a sports management story to rival Formula 1. In the luxury edition MotoGPTM Dorna: 25 Years (l), well-known commentator Nick Harris presents an officially approved celebration of world championship motorcycle racing from 1992 to 2017. He looks also at the role played by Spain-based DORNA, the international sports management and marketing group that became involved in 1992 and set about standardising the ailing competition, which had run since 1949. Harris writes that the company introduced a new era of direction and harmony, and of sporting and commercial success.

Among soccer titles published this month, Pogba (p), by Luca Caioli and Cyril Collot, stands out. When the UK club Manchester United re-signed their former youth player Paul Pogba for a then world record fee in the summer of 2016, they made a powerful statement. Together with the signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, it signalled their determination to attract the best players in the world to their Old Trafford stadium, despite three seasons of underachievement. In the four years since he had left ‘The Reds’, Pogba had blossomed into a midfielder of undoubted world class. This is an in-depth portrait of one of modern football’s greatest talents.

Other soccer books worth a look include: Sir Matt Busby (l), Patrick Barclay’s definitive biography of the Scot who became a football management legend with Manchester United; Brave New World (l), Guillem Balague’s inside account of Tottenham Hotspur’s 2016-2017 season; The Man In White Boots (l), David Tossell’s biography of Alan Ball, the youngest of England’s World Cup-winning team of 1966; and Angels With Dirty Faces (p), Jonathan Wilson’s footballing history of Argentina.

If the oval ball is your thing, seek out Wrecking Ball (l), a captivating and humorous memoir-so-far by Billy Vunipola, a rampaging forward with Saracens and England.

Language learners take note. Berlitz are publishing a bargain value Spanish Picture Dictionary (p), covering 2,000 words and developed by a team of language experts for everyday situations: money, numbers, family, shopping, work, filling in forms, and so on.

If you are heading for Barcelona in defiance of recent events there then Barcelona Top 10 2017 (p), an updated edition in Dorling Kindersley’s Eyewitness Top 10 series, could be for you. It is pocket-sized guide to the 10 Best of Everything in the city and has a handy pull-out map.


AUGUST 2017


The Basque writer Dolores Redondo from Donostia-San Sebastian has been making waves throughout Europe with her atmospheric Baztán trilogy, set in that region of Spain and featuring detective inspector Amaia Salazar of the Policía Foral de Navarra.

The first instalment, The Invisible Guardian, was published in Spain in 2013 and rights were sold in 30 languages. It was voted best crime novel of the year by leading Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia. More than 600,000 readers of the The Invisible Guardian and its follow-up stories – The Legacy Of The Bones, and Offering To The Storm – made the trilogy one of Spain's biggest literary successes in recent years.

In the United Kingdom, The Invisible Guardian was shortlisted for the prestigious Crime Writers’ Association International Dagger award. A film adaptation is under development by the producer of both The Killing – the US crime drama TV series based on Danish television’s Forbrydelsen – and Stieg Larsson's Milennium Trilogy.

Offering To The Storm (l) is finally published in English, completing the trilogy’s availability in that language. In Pamplona, the capital of Navarra, Salazar is called in to investigate the death of a baby girl, and finds an ominous sign that points to murder.

The baby’s father was caught trying to run away with the body, whether from guilt or grief nobody is sure. When the grandmother tells police that the killer was the Inguma, an evil demon of Basque mythology that slays people in their sleep, Amaia is forced to return to the Baztán valley in the Spanish part of the Atlantic Pyrenees to find answers.

Back where it all began, in the depths of a blizzard, she comes face to face with a ghost from her past, and finally uncovers a devastating truth that has ravaged the valley for years.

Offering To The Storm leads off our latest Soltalk Hotlist of titles, some entirely new, others moving into small paperback format for the first time or being reissued, sometimes after a long time out of print. All are due for publication on various dates this month and in early September. The Soltalk Hotlist helps readers to plan and budget for book ordering.

In a second successive month of Spain-themed books, we also flag up The Dead (p), a thriller by Mark Oldfield. Comandante Leopoldo Guzmán has decided it is time to disappear: Franco is in his grave and there is no place for the one-time head of the dead dictator's secret police. Guzmán first needs money but, luckily, blackmail has always come easily to him – after all, he knows where the bodies are. So he should – he buried them.

Fifteen tangled corpses in a disused mine, and three bound skeletons in a sealed cellar, eventually lead forensic investigator Ana María Galindez to Guzmán decades after his disappeared. She fears his toxic legacy lives on. Her investigation has revealed a darkness born amid corruption and deprivation during the dictatorship, a conspiracy that after years in the shadows is finally ready to bloom.

The plight of migrants making the sometimes deadly crossing from Morocco to Spain provides the motivation for two other novels due this month.

In the thriller The Forgotten Dead (p), Swedish journalist and writer Tove Alsterdal begins the story in Tarifa near Cádiz, where the body of a migrant washes up. No-one seems to care, but investigative journalist Patrick Cornwall’s is trying to uncover the plight of migrants trying to start new lives in Europe, and to expose the corruption that runs to the highest levels of society.

His wife, Ally, is used to him being out of contact, but discovers that she is pregnant, and wants to track him down. Unable to reach him, and starting to worry, she flies across the ocean to get answers. Still unable to find him, Ally delves into the secrets Patrick was determined to expose, and is drawn into an ever-deadlier web. In the dark underbelly of Europe, where lives are cheap, the perpetrators will stop at nothing to keep their crimes against humanity hidden.

The Gurugu Pledge (l), by the Equatorial Guinea novelist Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel, meanwhile brings a welcome African perspective to this major issue of modern European and African politics and economics.

On Monte Gurugú, a mountain overlooking the Spanish enclave of Melilla on the North African coast, desperate migrants gather before attempting to scale the city’s walls and gain asylum on European soil. Inspired by first-hand accounts, Ávila Laurel has written an urgent, funny and sad novel which has now been translated into English from the original Spanish.

Soccer fans take note. The Duellists: Pep, Jose And The Birth Of Football's Greatest Rivalry (l), is Paolo Condo’s take on the rivalry between two of the most celebrated European football managers of modern times: Pep Guardiola (Barcelona, Manchester City) and José Mourinho (Chelsea, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, Manchester United).

Condo is a reporter and commentator for Sky Italia television, and a European football correspondent for Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport. He is the only Italian journalist with a casting vote for the prestigious Balon d’Or award.

Cleverly, his book focuses on the build-up, games, and aftermath of the titanic clashes in April 2011, when Barcelona and Real Madrid faced each other four times in just 18 days: twice in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals, once in Spain’s La Liga, and again in the country’s Copa del Rey.

It was an incendiary period that defined an era for one of football’s most intense rivalries, as tension rose to levels arguably as high as have ever been experienced on a football pitch in the twenty-first century.

The latest cookery book to catch our eye provides an antidote to the usual carnivorous spreads at summer barbecues on the Costa. In Vegan BBQ (l), Nadine Horn presents more than 80 mouth-watering recipes. Just some of the delights to drool over are quinoa and chickpea burgers, celeriac steaks, courgette parcels, stuffed peppers, grilled onions with romesco sauce, crispy potato skins with guacamole, braised radishes in black pepper butter, as well as breads, dips, pickles salads and salsas.


Previous Spain-interest books (email for availability/orders)


The Sagrada Familia (l), by Gijs van Hensbergen is a definitive and illuminating biography of one of the most famous, and most famously unfinished, buildings in the world. This book explores the evolution of this remarkable Barcelona building, working through the decades right up to the present day before looking beyond to the final stretch of its construction. It is a guidebook, a chronological history, and a moving and compelling study of man’s aspiration to the divine. Rich in detail, vast in scope, this is a revelatory and authoritative study of a building and its place in history, and Antoni Gaudí, the genius that created it.

 If you are a twitcher heading north or east, then you may wish to consider buying Where To Watch Birds In Northern & Eastern Spain (p), a definitive guide to finding birds in those locations. An impressive range of habitats from the Pyrenees to the sun-drenched Catalan coast means the area is rich in birdlife, and full of potential for visiting birders. Almost 200 sites are described in this updated, third edition, with full coverage of terms of habitat, access, and the species to be seen. The accounts are illustrated by detailed maps and beautiful line drawings of selected species. The book includes comprehensive coverage of all thirteen autonomous regions, with a descriptive list of all the resident, visiting and rare birds to be found.

 Di Stéfano (p) is Ian Hawkey’s definitive biography of one of the greatest footballers that ever lived. Over 20 years, Di Stéfano was the guiding force behind three teams in three countries: at River Plate in his native Argentina; at Millonarios FC of Bogotá in Colombia; and then in 1953, after one of the most bitter transfer tug-of-wars in sporting history, Real Madrid or Spain. In Madrid, he became football’s first global icon, nicknamed ‘Blond Arrow’ for his powerful stamina, tactical versatility and precision goal scoring. This is his complete story, including candid and exclusive interviews.

 Things Look Different In The Light (p) is a beautifully-crafted collection of short stories from Medardo Fraile, a Spanish master of the form who in 2013 died in Glasgow, Scotland, where he had been a professor at the University of Strathclyde. Born in Madrid in 1925, he is considered one of Spain’s finest short story writers. The collection Cuentor de Verdad, on which this anthology is based, won him the 1965 Premio Nacional de la Critica. His work has appeared in translation in other story collections, but this is the first complete anthology of his work to appear in English. Like Russia’s Anton Chekhov and New Zealand’s Katherine Mansfield, Fraile is a chronicler of the minor tragedies and triumphs of ordinary life, each short tale opening up an entire exquisite world.

Sudden Death (p), by award-winning Spanish novelist Álvaro Enrigue, begins with a brutal tennis match as the bawdy Italian artist Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio and loutish Spanish poet Francisco de Quevedo battle it out in Rome. The spectators include Galileo, Mary Magdalene, and a generation of popes who would cast Europe into the flames. Sudden Death is a funny and mind-bending novel about the clash of empires and ideas in the sixteenth century, told over the course of one dazzling sporting contest.

Three history books catch the eye this month. In The Moor’s Last Stand (h), Elizabeth Drayson recounts how seven centuries of Muslim rule in Spain ended. She tells the poignant story of Abu Abdallah Muhammad XII (Boabdil), the last Muslim king of Granada. Betrayed by his family and undermined by faction and internal conflict, Boabdil was defeated in 1492 by the forces of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of the newly united kingdoms of Castilla and Aragon. Their victory marked the completion of the long Christian reconquest of Spain and ended seven centuries in which Christians, Muslims and Jews had, for the most part, lived peacefully and profitably together.

Science & Islam: A History (h), by Ehsan Masood, tells how, long before the European Enlightenment, scholars and researchers working from Cordoba in Spain to Samarkand in modern-day Uzbekistan advanced knowledge of astronomy, chemistry, engineering, mathematics, medicine and philosophy. From Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi, who developed algebra in 9th century Baghdad, to al-Jazari (1136-1206), a 13th century Turkish engineer whose achievements include the crank, the camshaft, and the reciprocating piston, Masood covers the amazing story of one of history’s most misunderstood yet rich and fertile periods in science. He draws on the scholars, research, and science of the Islamic empires of the middle ages.

Spain In Our Hearts (h), by Adam Hochschild, focuses on Americans in the Spanish Civil War. From the moment it began in 1936, the conflict became the political question of the age. Hitler and Mussolini quickly sent aircraft, troops and supplies to the right-wing generals bent on overthrowing Spain’s elected governments. Millions of people around the world felt passionately that rapidly advancing fascism must be halted in Spain; if not there, where? More than 35,000 volunteers from dozens of other countries went to help defend the Spanish Republic.

In the book From Guernica To Greatness (h), Adam Crafton describes how the Spanish have transformed English football over the last 80 years. The book includes exclusive content from many Spanish stars, past and present, who have played or coached in England. We discover how and why it is that some players, such as Cesc Fabregas and Xabi Alonso, have had great success in the English Premier League, while others have struggled to make an impact. Fernando Torres experienced both extremes. But this is not just a footballing story. Crafton provides historical and social context that helps to understand how the relationship between Spain and England or, for that matter, the entire UK, is constantly changing, yet always close.


In his biography of Cristiano Ronaldo (p), Iain Spragg offers a unique insight into the life and career of the three-times FIFA World Footballer of the Year. Fully revised, it has been updated to include Ronaldo’s glorious summer of 2016, marked by victories in both the Champions League and the UEFA European Championship. It is filled with facts, statistics, and 100 photographs. Spragg covers the player’s childhood, his early career with Sporting Clube de Portugal in Lisbon, and the glory years with Manchester United before the move to Real Madrid. The book also examines the footballer’s outstanding skill, devastating pace, fantastic ball control and incredible power shooting with either foot.

The latest Time Out Barcelona City Guide (p) unveils the best kept secrets of one of the Mediterranean’s most engaging destinations. Celebrated for its enthusiasm for enjoying a good time, Barcelona barely has time to take down the bunting between its rollicking festivals. If it is not an all-night fiesta on the street, it is likely a party on the beach, and never any shortage of action in its clubs and bars. All of this takes place in a perfect climate against a backdrop of mind-blowing modernista architecture and a cityscape as varied as any.

The Santiago Pilgrimage: Walking the Immortal Way (h), by Jean-Christophe Rufin, is a lyrical, at times meditative, travelogue of the author’s peregrination along the pilgrim way from France to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain. Each year, tens of thousands of backpackers set out from either their front doorstep or from popular starting points across Europe to make this trek. Most travel by foot, others ride a bicycle, and a few travel, as did some of their medieval counterparts, on horseback or with a donkey. In addition to those who undertake a religious pilgrimage, the majority are hikers who walk the way for non-religious reasons: travel, sport, or simply the challenge of spending weeks walking in a foreign land.

Grape Olive Pig (l), by Matt Goulding, recalls deep travels through Spain’s food culture. This food-driven travel guide is filled with pleasing narrative, insider advice and nearly 200 full-colour photos.

Among new or updated travel guides in March 2017, Dorling Kindersley’s (DK) pocket-sized Eyewitness Top 10 guide to Andalucía & The Costa Del Sol (p) covers ‘the best of everything’ along with a pull-out map. The full-sized DK Eyewitness Travel Guide to Northern Spain (l) moves into a second edition, and Footprint Handbooks also publish a guide to Northern Spain (p), by Andy Symington.


A Broken Mirror (p), by Mercè Rodoreda (1908-1983), is a haunting classic of modern Catalan literature from one Spain’s most celebrated 20th century authors. Extending from the prosperous Barcelona of the 1870s to the advent of the Franco dictatorship and the Civil War, the book follows three generations of a fractured aristocratic family at the turn of the century. They begin with Teresa Goday, a fishmonger’s daughter who marries a wealthy older man. Turning upon events both intimate and historic, Rodoreda follows the founding of this matriarchal dynasty through to its eventual, seemingly inevitable disintegration, and calls into question the legacies that bind people together.

The Lighthouse (l), by Spain’s Paco Roca, is an absorbing new graphic fiction from the critically-acclaimed author of Wrinkles. Francisco, a wounded, despairing 16-year-old Republican guard in the Spanish Civil War, is trying to flee to freedom by crossing the French border. In his escape, he encounters an old remote lighthouse, far from the warring factions. He is granted shelter by Telmo, the ageing operator of the lighthouse. As Francisco recuperates, Telmo’s tales of epic adventurers who sailed the lost seas and discovered worlds unknown reignite the spark of life in the young soldier.

For readers of history, Isabella of Castille (h) is Giles Tremlett’s biography of the queen who, in 1474 at the age of 23, ascended the throne of Castilla, the largest and strongest kingdom in Spain. Ahead of her lay the considerable challenge not only of being a young, female ruler in an overwhelmingly male-dominated world, but also of reforming a major European kingdom that was riddled with crime, corruption, and violent political factionalism. Her marriage to Ferdinand of Aragon was crucial to her success, bringing together as it did two kingdoms; but it was a royal partnership in which Isabella more than held her own. Her pivotal reign was long and transformative, uniting Spain and setting the stage for its golden era of global dominance.

Local cooks and gardeners take note: Citrus (l), by Catherine Phipps, includes 150 recipes celebrating the sour and the sweet; from Seville oranges to yuzu, grapefruit, bergamot and pomelo. Through fresh salads, scented broths and soups, the marriage of seafood and citrus, Asian and Mediterranean-inflected meat dishes, preserves and pickles, to the world of sweet pies, tarts, cakes and cocktails, Phipps explores the myriad uses of oranges and lemons and all things in between.

The Hungarian novelist and screenwriter László Krasznahorkai is hailed as one of Europe’s literary geniuses. The Last Wolf & Herman (l) is a translation into English of two of his fine novellas. In The Last Wolf itself, a philosophy professor is mistakenly hired to write the true tale of the last wolf of Extremadura, a barren stretch of Spain. His miserable experience is narrated in a single, rolling sentence to a bored bartender in a dreary Berlin bar. In the second novella, Herman, a master trapper is asked to clear a forest’s last ‘noxious’ beasts. Herman begins with great zeal, though in time he switches sides, deciding to track entirely new game. These intense novellas full of his signature sense of foreboding and dark irony, are perfect examples of Krasznahorkai’s craft.

El Celler de Can Roca features recipes from the three Michelin starred Catalan restaurant opened in 1986 by Roca brothers Joan, Josep and Jordi. In 2015, El Celler was once again named the best restaurant in the world by The Restaurant magazine. The first edition of the book was published in Spanish in giant format weighing five kilos and selling at 90 euros. This new, smaller, redux English edition features more than 90 detailed recipes and a collection of the 240 most outstanding dishes from the 25-year history of this magnificent restaurant. 


Brindisa (l), by Monika Brinton is a special book of classic Spanish ingredients and home cooking. Brindisa, a fine food importer based in London, England, has become a byword for excellent Spanish fare. This book celebrates contemporary Spanish cooking, including classic regional recipes, tapas dishes, and information about the best ingredients and food producers. Covering the ways in which good food is integral to everyday Spanish life, this is not just a book about recipes, but a celebration of Spain, its food and people, countryside and producers.

In Rustic Spanish (l), Paul Richardson presents more than 100 easy-to-follow recipes; traditional favourites and contemporary fare. There are suggested wine pairings, and ingredient guides. The package is completed by beautiful and descriptive colour photographs and illustrations. 


La Herradura, Nerja’s near neighbour, shares a history influenced by the sea, a narrow coastal strip, and high sierras behind. The Costa Tropical village similarly depended traditionally on agriculture and fishing before the advent of other economic drivers, notably tourism. American writer Felicia Mezzacappa Hall captures oral memories of lives and times-gone-by in her book Gone Is The Mulberry Tree. They stretch from the years of hardship after the Civil War to the later years of relative prosperity, and pose the question: ‘Are we better off today than we were before?’ Recollections of local people are intertwined with those of Hall’s family while living in La Herradura and Madrid until the present day. She and her husband Andrew owned the former art gallery Galería Arte de Felicia Hall in La Herradura. The book is complemented by original drawings from British artist Annabel Gosling.


The Hermit (l), by Thomas Rydahl, begins with a car found crashed on a beach in the Canary Island resort of Fuerteventura. In the trunk is a cardboard box containing the body of a boy. No-one knows his name; there is no trace of a driver. The last thing Fuerteventura needs is a murder: the island has half-empty bars and windswept beaches, and local police are under pressure to cut short their probing. However, long-time islander Erhard, who sees more than most people, will not let the investigation drop. This won The Glass Key Award, the Danish Debutant Award, and the Harald Mogensen Prize for Best Danish Crime fiction.


Gathered for the first time in English, Vampire in Love (l) offers Spanish master Enrique Vila-Matas’ finest short stories. Selected and translated by Margaret Jull Costa, they are all told with Barcelona-born Vila-Matas’ erudition and wit, and his provocative questioning of the interrelation of art and life. His website is at enriquevilamatas.com


Invictus (l) is the latest of Simon Scarrow’s wonderful historical novels following the fortunes of two battle-scarred Roman legionaries, Prefect Cato and Centurion Macro.Having survived years of campaigning in Britannia, they have been recalled to Rome. Their time in the teeming, dangerously political city is short, and soon they are travelling with the Praetorian Guard to Hispania (later Spain and Portugal), a restless colony where simmering tension in the face of Roman rule is aggravated by bitter rivalry amongst the natives.

Back in the real world, Four Princes (l) is John Julius Norwich’s colourful account of the four very different rulers who arguably created the modern world: Charles V of Spain, Henry VIII of England, Francis I of France, and Suleiman the Magnificent, sultan of the Ottoman Empire. Through the interlocking stories of these great princes, Norwich offers a short, vivid history of the Renaissance and the making of early modern Europe. Packed with gossipy stories and colourful asides (whether it is Henry VIII getting the Venetian ambassador to feel his thigh to see how strong he is, or the fat queen who had a plum named after her), the sixteenth century, along with its heroes and villains, comes alive again on the page.

Among new travel guides, Dorling Kindersley’s Eyewitness Top 10 series now includes the updated Barcelona 2017(p), a signpost to the best on offer: what not to miss; the Top 10 rankings for sights; hotels, events and festivals; the best nightspots; restaurant reviews; and a pull-out map.

 

Messi Neymar Ronaldo (p) is Luca Caioli’s 2017 updated edition in which he assesses three of the world’s greatest football players. Lionel Andrés Messi, Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, and Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro have risen from humble beginnings in Argentina, Brazil and Portugal respectively to rank among the most exciting talents the sport has ever seen. Caioli compares their contrasting style, stories, records and awards, providing material for the reader to decide who comes out on top. With exclusive insights from their friends, families, teammates and managers, he presents a unique insight into what makes a modern player not just successful, but truly great.

The Maestro of Almijara (p) reunites readers with the likeable cast of characters from The Olive Groves of Almijara (p). Both were penned by the late Drew Launay, who lives for decades in Frigiliana and Nerja. Each is a revised and renamed edition of humorous novels that were first published in 1979 and 1980 and are now happily available again.

The Maestro of Almijara is inspired by events in Frigiliana in the 1970s, when the villagers are still coming to terms with modernity and foreigners. From the pompous school teacher Maestro Muñoz, the village’s self-appointed intellectual, to canny Placido, owner of the Bar Alhambra, whose wife Conchita nags him at every opportunity, we return to Andalucía a few years after the death of General Franco, where every doorway is open to every neighbour and passer-by. The gossip turns to the rich stranger staying at the Bar Alhambra. Who is he? Why does he want to buy the barren and unprofitable olive groves? The dusty streets of the village of Almijara are buzzing with fevered speculation.

Operation Mincemeat (p) is Ben Macintyre’s account of a true story that changed the course of World War II. In April 1943, a sardine fisherman spotted the corpse of a British soldier floating off the coast of Spain and set in motion one of the most successful deceptions ever attempted. It would cause chaos by sending Nazi troops in the wrong direction, saving thousands of lives by deploying a secret agent who was different from any who came before or since: he was dead. Older readers may recall the story in director Ronald Neame’s 1956 film, The Man Who Never Was.

Lonely Planet’s Best of Spain guide is a passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. It is packed with inspirational images and city walking tours. There are fold-out country- and Barcelona-planning maps, and it includes Madrid, Sevilla and the Pyrenees. It features 3D illustrations of La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, and Granada’s Alhambra. The same publisher’s Spain and Barcelona guidesmeanwhile move into their eleventh and tenth editions  respectively.

La Herradura, Nerja’s near neighbour, shares a history influenced by the sea, a narrow coastal strip, and high sierras behind. The Costa Tropical village similarly depended traditionally on agriculture and fishing before the advent of other economic drivers, notably tourism. American writer Felicia Mezzacappa Hall captures oral memories of lives and times-gone-by in her book Gone Is The Mulberry Tree. They stretch from the years of hardship after the Civil War to the later years of relative prosperity, and pose the question: ‘Are we better off today than we were before?’ Recollections of local people are intertwined with those of Hall’s family while living in La Herradura and Madrid until the present day. She and her husband Andrew owned the former art gallery Galería Arte de Felicia Hall in La Herradura. The book is complemented by original drawings from British artist Annabel Gosling (annabelgosling.com)


The Hermit (l), by Thomas Rydahl, begins with a car found crashed on a beach in the Canary Island resort of Fuerteventura. In the trunk is a cardboard box containing the body of a boy. No-one knows his name; there is no trace of a driver. The last thing Fuerteventura needs is a murder: the island has half-empty bars and windswept beaches, and local police are under pressure to cut short their probing. However, long-time islander Erhard, who sees more than most people, will not let the investigation drop. This won The Glass Key Award, the Danish Debutant Award, and the Harald Mogensen Prize for Best Danish Crime fiction.

Gathered for the first time in English, Vampire in Love (l) offers Spanish master Enrique Vila-Matas’ finest short stories. Selected and translated by Margaret Jull Costa, they are all told with Barcelona-born Vila-Matas’ erudition and wit, and his provocative questioning of the interrelation of art and life. His website is at enriquevilamatas.com

Invictus (l) is the latest of Simon Scarrow’s wonderful historical novels following the fortunes of two battle-scarred Roman legionaries, Prefect Cato and Centurion Macro.Having survived years of campaigning in Britannia, they have been recalled to Rome. Their time in the teeming, dangerously political city is short, and soon they are travelling with the Praetorian Guard to Hispania (later Spain and Portugal), a restless colony where simmering tension in the face of Roman rule is aggravated by bitter rivalry amongst the natives.

Four Princes (l) is John Julius Norwich’s colourful account of the four very different rulers who arguably created the modern world: Charles V of Spain, Henry VIII of England, Francis I of France, and Suleiman the Magnificent, sultan of the Ottoman Empire. Through the interlocking stories of these great princes, Norwich offers a short, vivid history of the Renaissance and the making of early modern Europe. Packed with gossipy stories and colourful asides (whether it is Henry VIII getting the Venetian ambassador to feel his thigh to see how strong he is, or the fat queen who had a plum named after her), the sixteenth century, along with its heroes and villains, comes alive again on the page.

Among new travel guides, Dorling Kindersley’s Eyewitness Top 10 series now includes the updated Barcelona 2017(p), a signpost to the best on offer: what not to miss; the Top 10 rankings for sights; hotels, events and festivals; the best nightspots; restaurant reviews; and a pull-out map.


Messi Neymar Ronaldo (p) is Luca Caioli’s 2017 updated edition in which he assesses three of the world’s greatest football players. Lionel Andrés Messi, Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, and Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro have risen from humble beginnings in Argentina, Brazil and Portugal respectively to rank among the most exciting talents the sport has ever seen. Caioli compares their contrasting style, stories, records and awards, providing material for the reader to decide who comes out on top. With exclusive insights from their friends, families, teammates and managers, he presents a unique insight into what makes a modern player not just successful, but truly great.


In the book The Island Of Second Sight (l), by Germany’s Albert V Thelen (1903-1989), anti-Nazis Vigoleis and Beatrice embark on unpredictable and surreal adventures as they are pursued by Nazis and Francoists. Then the Spanish Civil War erupts, presenting new challenges to their escape plan; the island in question being Mallorca.


Everything Is Happening; Journey Into Painting (p), by the late Michael Jacobs is at last out in paperback. Jacobs had been haunted for most of his adult life by Spanish painter Diego Velázquez’s enigmatic masterwork, Las Meninas, Spanish for ‘The Ladies-in-Waiting’. Here, he searches for the ultimate significance of the painting by following the trails of associations and memories from each individual character in the picture. Jacobs dissolves the barriers between past and present, the real and the illusory.


Galicia’s Manuel Rivas writes that his coming-of-age novel The Low Voices is ‘about life, it is life itself telling stories, it is the memory of the quiet voices of the people I got to know’. It draws on a patchwork of memories from Rivas’ early life under Franco; his beloved sister Maria, who died young; his mother, the verbivore; his father, a construction worker with vertigo; and a supporting cast of local priests, chatty hairdressers, monstrous carnival effigies, and a baritone cockerel. It is full of personal stories, of his youth and of his burgeoning career in journalism, against a background of the unspoken dread of the Spanish Civil War at home.

The Seamstress And The Wind (p) is a celebrated novel by César Aira, a Man Booker International award finalist and one of the most influential writers in Latin America today. In a small town in Argentina, a seamstress sews a wedding dress. Suddenly, she fears that her son has been kidnapped and driven off to Patagonia. She chases after him in a taxi. Her husband finds out and takes off after her to the end of the world, to a place where monsters are born and the southern wind falls hopelessly in love.

On The Edge (l), by the late Rafael Chirbes, from near Valencia, opens with the discovery of a corpse in the marshes on the outskirts of Olba, Spain, a town wracked by despair after the burst of the economic bubble, and a microcosm of defeat, debt and corruption. Esteban is stuck there, his factory bankrupt, his investments stolen by a ‘friend’, and his unloved father, a mute invalid, entirely his personal burden. Much of the novel unfolds in Esteban’s raw and tormented monologues; but other voices resound from the wreckage, and their words, sharp as knives, crowd their terse, hypnotic monologues of ruin, prostitution, and loss.

Desire For Chocolate (p), by Barcelona’s Care Santos, features three women, three centuries and the same bone-china chocolate pot: Sara, scion of a dynasty of Barcelona chocolatiers, who prides herself on maintaining the family tradition; Aurora, daughter of a 19th century maid-servant, for whom chocolate is a forbidden luxury; and Mariana, wife of the most famous 17th century chocolate manufacturer, an official purveyor to the French court.

Finisterre (l), by Graham Hurley, is a thriller set in World War II. In October 1944, dozens of German cities are in ruins, and the Allied Powers’ forces are closing in. Rather than face unconditional surrender, German intelligence launches Operation Finisterre, a last-ditch plan to bluff a way to the negotiating table. Success depends on two men: a German naval officer washed ashore on the coast of Spain after the loss of his U-boat, and an ex-FBI detective planted in the most secret place on earth, the American atomic bomb complex.

The Muse (l), by Jessie Burton, is a new novel from the bestselling author of The Miniaturist, a tale of art, forbidden love, ambition, obsession and deception set in 1930s Spain and 1960s London. It involves a young immigrant, a bohemian artist, and a mysterious painting connecting them across decades.

Cry, Mother Spain (l), by Lydie Salvayre launches in summer 1936 when Montse is 15 years old and her country is on the brink of civil war. Her village in northeast Spain is a world away from tensions overspilling elsewhere, but when her brother returns brimming with anarchic zeal, Montse is captivated. Her sheltered life will never be the same. Salvayre (b 1948), a French writer, is the daughter of Spanish Republican refugees from the Spanish Civil War.

Uncertain Glory (p), by the Catalan writer Joan Sales (1912-1983), finds Lieutenant Lluis Ruscalleda posted in 1937 to the Aragonese front, where he shuns the drunken antics of comrades and goes in search of intrigue. However, the lady of Castel do Olivo - a beautiful widow with a shadowy past - puts a high price on her affections. In Barcelona, Trini Milmany meanwhile struggles to raise Lluis’ son on her own, letters from the front her only solace. With bombs falling as fast as the city’s morale, she leaves to winter with Lluis’ brigade on a quiet section of the line. But even on ‘dead’ fronts, the guns do not stay silent for long. Her decision will put her family’s fate in the hands of Juli Soeras, old friend and traitor.

Ibiza’s nascent food revolution is reflected in Eivissa, The Ibiza Cookbook (l), by Anne Sijmonsbergen. The Balearic island is experiencing a wave of chefs and producers making artisan products and vibrant food. This recipe book showcases the wonderful Ibicneco dishes that Ibiza cuisine offers. Examples include grilled courgette ribbons, asparagus and mint tostada, and grapefruit and juniper-encrusted pork salad.

This Too Shall Pass (p), by Catalan publisher, author and journalist Milena Busquets, centres on Blanca, 40-years-old and motherless. Shocked at the unexpected loss of the most important person in her life, she has no idea what her future will look like. To deal with her dizzying grief and confusion, she turns to sex, her dearest friends, her closest family, and a change of scenery. Leaving Barcelona behind, she returns to her mother’s former home in Cadaqués on the coast. Wryly funny, wistfully romantic, grief-stricken, and raw, this novel is a meditation on loss and love; a timeless story of what it means to find a way forward to truly, happily live on a person’s own terms.

Katherine of Aragon – The True Queen (l), the first of a six novel series by historian Alison Weir about the queens of King Henry VIII of England.

Spain in Our Hearts (l) is Adam Hochschild’s account of Americans in the Spanish Civil War. From the moment it began 80 years ago, the war became the political debating point of the age.

The fascist dictators Hitler and Mussolini sent aircraft and troops to assist nationalist military rebels bent on overthrowing Spain’s elected government. Millions of people around the world felt passionately that rapidly advancing fascism must be halted in Spain; if not there, where? More than 35,000 volunteers from dozens of other countries went to help defend the Spanish Republic. This is the story of the Americans among them.

In similar vein, but with a more literary bent, ¡No Pasarán!(l) is an international Spanish Civil War anthology conveying the complex experience of the conflict like nothing else. Pete Ayrton brings together hauntingly vivid stories, powerful writing that allows readers to witness life behind and at the front-lines of both sides in the conflict.

It is time to dust off the guide books or seek out new ones as convincingly warm weather and longer daylight hours turn thoughts to stravaiging. You could perhaps splash the cash on an unusual offering from John Weller, a year round ‘wild swimmer’ and landscape lover from London, UK.

These passions merge to good effect in Wild Swimming Spain (l), which helps travellers equipped with swimming costumes – and sometimes not! – to explore the country’s stunning freshwater lakes and rivers. It is co-authored by Lola Cuslán, a half-Spanish, former stand-up comic who teaches, writes and swims. She has been charting these aquatic havens with Weller for three years during trips in a 20-year old campervan with their teenage boys and some Elvis tunes. Wild Swimming Spain’s beautiful photographs combine with maps, directions, grid references and walking times, as well as recommendations for canoe trips, campsites and places to eat. Some locations are easy escapes from cities, others are in the hidden wilderness. 17 Andalucía locations feature, including five within easy reach of residents in the Axarquía and Costa Tropical. Unsurprisingly, some of the authors’ favourite spots are the high reaches of the Rio Chillar between Nerja and Frigiliana. Natural pools and a seasonally noisy waterfall on the Rio Verde near Otívar, above Almuñécar, are also highly commended. There goes the neighbourhood! Another cluster of swims is more or less in the Marbella, Ronda, Manilva triangle.

Dorling Kindersley has meanwhile updated Back Roads Spain in the beautifully illustrated DK Eyewitness series. This driving holiday guide will take you via scenic routes to discover charming villages, local restaurants and intimate places to stay. Unearth the real soul of Spain with all the practical information and opening hours. 25 themed drives, each lasting one to seven days, reveal breath-taking views, hidden gems and authentic local experiences that can be discovered only by road. Each tour is bursting with insider knowledge and loaded with ideas for varied activities from walks to days on the beach and children’s attractions, to wine and cycling trips.

The 500 Hidden Secrets of Barcelona (l), by Mark Cloostermans, reveals hundreds of good-to-know addresses: where to go for tapas, vegetarian food, or cocktails etc. He claims to avoid the tourist traps and to point out city details readers are otherwise likely to miss. Cloostermans, a Belgian journalist living in the Catalan capital, unveils the various districts, pointing out historical nuggets in the narrow streets of the old town, taking readers from green Montjuïc hill to the beach, and back up. He reveals the best bars in the Paris-like Gracia neighbourhood, all Barça FC-related places, and festivals to plan a visit around.

Phaidon, publisher of exquisite cookery and art books, has produced Quick and Easy Spanish Recipes (l) by Simone and Inés Ortega, who some will recognise as co-authors of the stupendous 1080 Recipes, which contained just what the title suggests. Their latest oeuvre is a much more digestible – in the numerical sense – collection of 100 recipes, each with a cooking time up to 30 minutes. They are selected and adapted from 1080 Recipes, and each is accompanied by a colour image.

There must be something magical for cooks about the number 100 at the moment. Basque Book: a Love Letter in Recipes from the Kitchen of Txikito (l) is a collection of 100 País Vasco recipes from Alex Raij and Eder Montero, acclaimed chef-proprietors of New York restaurants Txikito, La Vara, and El Quinto Pino.

Spain: Summer of 36(l), by Juan Vicente García Moreno, provides deep insight into what happened in Mollina, a Málaga province village near Antequera, before, during and after the 1936-1939 Civil War.

It leads off this month’s Hotlist of titles, some entirely new, others moving into small paperback for the first time, and all due for publication on dates in February and early March. The Hotlist helps you plan your book ordering from us.

Born in 1944 in Mollina to a family of modest means, García Moreno lived through some of the toughest years of the Franco dictatorship. His book tells of the ordeals that his fellow Mollinatos experienced before and during the war, and the difficulties they faced afterwards in the harsh new political order. He witnessed hardships that devastated many poorer families in his village, and has seen the longstanding consequences of hunger and injustice. From an early age, he was fascinated by stories told behind closed doors about the then recent war in which his father and uncles were soldiers. Aged 17, he emigrated to Germany and then the United Kingdom, and has travelled extensively through Europe. He speaks English, German and French. He was always curious about the reasons behind the war, and about how it had affected his village; but these subjects were taboo during Franco’s dictatorship, which ended in 1975.

García Moreno felt compelled to set down in writing all that he had learned as an avid reader and student of relevant history. Now retired and living in Mijas, the book is his legacy to Mollina and its citizens.

Hot Milk (l), by Deborah Levy, begins as two strangers arrive in a small Spanish fishing village. The older woman is suffering from mysterious paralysis, driven to seek a cure beyond the bounds of conventional medicine. Her daughter Sofia has spent years playing the reluctant detective in this mystery, struggling to understand her mother’s illness.

Surrounded by oppressive desert heat, searching for a cure to a defiant and quite possibly imagined disease, Sofia is forced to confront her difficult relationship with her mother. Levy explores female rage and sexuality, and the ways in which children and parents are both debtors and creditors.

Basque (l), by José Pizarro, is a beautifully presented collection of Spanish recipes from San Sebastián/Donostia and beyond. Pizarro shows how to create some of the best-loved País Vasco dishes at home. The food of this region is great to share with family and friends, but is also about fun, informality and not being a slave to the stove. He has also put together some menus and drinks suggestions to help plan, shop, cook and, most importantly, enjoy this way of eating and socialising.

Walkers take note: We now stock Penibetica’s new trail map and English language guide to the natural park of the Sierras Tejeda, Almijara and Alhama, the mountain ranges behind Nerja, Torrox, Cómpeta and Torre del Mar etc. The map scale is 1:40,000 and the local sections of the GR-249 Gran Senda de Málaga – Great Málaga Path – are indicated. This long-distance walking route runs from Nerja in the east, up through the sierras to Colmenar and on to north of Antequera before heading west to the natural park at Grazalema, then down to Estepona and back east along the coast past Marbella and Málaga to Nerja. It links up with other parts of the national and European network of trails. These connect, among others, with the European Grand Tour GR- 92 E-12, which crosses the Mediterranean and ends in Greece. A website dedicated to the GR-249 may be found at gransendademalaga.es and has an English language option.

Myth mingles with reality in Invisible Guardian (p), by Spain’s Dolores Redondo. A killer is at large in a remote Basque Country valley. Are two murders the work of a ritualistic killer or of the Basajaun, a huge, hairy man-like creature of Basque mythology? 30-year-old homicide inspector Amaia Salazar heads an investigation which will take her back to Elizondo, the Navarra village where she was born, and to which she had hoped never to return.

This was a bestseller in Spain, in 2013. It the first part of the Baztán Trilogy, set in the Basque Country’s Pyrenean Mountains. The rights to adapt the trilogy for film has been bought by NADCON, a joint venture between Germany’s Constantin Film and leading German producer Peter Nadermann, who produced the Swedish film adaptations of the Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy of books, the first of which was The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

The Olive Groves Of Almijara(p), is a reissue of the Olive Groves of Alhora, first published in 1979 by WH Allen under the supposed authorship of Nerja’s Maria Isabel Rodriguez.

It was actually penned by her husband, author and playwright Drew Launay (1930-2013), who lived in Nerja for many years until his death. He took inspiration from Maribel’s recollections of rural Andalucía, and from Launay’s knowledge of life in Frigiliana, where he had moved his family to from London in 1969. This latest edition, which is slightly revised and under a new title reflecting more closely the Frigiliana link, rectifies the matter of authorship. It benefits from a beautiful cover designed by his daughter, the illustrator Melissa Launay (melissalaunay.com).

The Olive Groves Of Almijara is set in a typical Andalucian mountain pueblo before the tourists and estate agents invade. The villagers’ petty jealousies, preening ambitions, old prejudices, clandestine affairs and long-hidden secrets are humourously, but sympathetically, laid bare. The book has a similar feel to Gabriel Chevallier’s 1934 French novel Clochemerle. However, the soporific heat, easy pace of life, and inflamed passions place Launay’s book firmly in the Spain on our doorstep.

In Alberto’s Lost Birthday (l), by Rosie Diana, a little boy and his grandfather embark on a quest to find the old man’s missing birthday. As a child, Alberto lost his birthday in the Spanish civil war. Now an old man living a simple life, he rarely thinks about his past. But when his grandson discovers his Apu has never had a birthday party, never blown out candles on a cake, never received a card or present, he is determined to do something about it. As the two set off, they have no idea it will be a journey that takes them through Spain’s troubled past, to places and people that Alberto once knew. But will they be able to find the memories they are searching for?

If historical fiction is your thing, how about Run Them Ashore (l), by Adrian Goldsworthy. It starts in autumn 1810. Napoleon’s legions have overrun Spain, and it looks as if the United Kingdom is losing the war. Backed by the Royal Navy, the British and their Spanish allies are clinging on to a toe-hold at Cádiz. As the French press ever closer, Lieutenant Williams of His Majesty’s 106th Foot joins the Spanish partisans fighting behind enemy lines. Embroiled in the merciless guerrilla war, he soon realises that the greatest dangers come from his own side. A traitor is at work, and Williams must try to reach the British lines and warn them before a surprise raid on the French turns into a disaster.

Turning to real history, The Wise King: A Christian Prince, Muslim Spain, and the Birth of the Renaissance (l) is Simon Doubleday’s illuminating biography of Alfonso X, the 13th century philosopher-king whose affinity for Islamic culture left an indelible mark on Western civilisation.This was a Spanish ruler in whom eastern and western cultures collided; a statesman, warrior and philosopher whose curiosity and humanity in the face of existential threats to his kingdom would forever transform the face of Christendom.

The Imprudent King: A New Life of Phillip II (l) is eminent historian Geoffrey Parker’s biography of Europe’s most powerful 16th century monarch. Parker draws on four decades of research as well as a recent, extraordinary archival discovery; a trove of 3,000 documents in the vaults of the Hispanic Society of America in New York, unread since crossing Philip’s own desk more than four centuries ago.

Autumn in Catalonia (p), by Jane Mackenzie is the story of three generations of women torn apart by the Spanish Civil War, and by one determined man. It takes the arrival of an unknown cousin for them to start building bridges. Martin carries his own ghosts, but he has come looking for his family, and his belief in them helps them unite to face the enemy together one autumn in Catalonia. This is a story in which love wins over evil, and belief brings hope, emerging victorious into the sunshine of the landscape.

The Exile (l) is the second in Mark Oldfield’s planned Vengeance of Memory trilogy. In 1954, secret policeman Comandante Guzmán has been posted deep into the Basque country to confront a man known as El Lobo, ‘the wolf’. High in the mountains, Guzmán must fight for his life, not only against El Lobo, but also against someone who has been searching for him for a very long time. In Madrid, 2010, forensic investigator Ana Maria Galindez has spent seven months in hospital recovering from the blast that nearly killed her. Her obsession with Guzmán’s fate has disturbed long dormant forces. Now she will reap the consequences: she will be purposely humiliated, abandoned by colleagues and friends, accused of murder, and worse.

Jessica Cornwell’s The Serpent Papers (p), the first volume in a mystical thriller trilogy, begins in Barcelona, summer 2003, as three people are sacrificed to an unknown purpose, their skins carved with a cryptic alphabet, tongues removed. When Inspector Fabregat is sent beautiful, sinister letters, he does not know if they are clues or confessions, and cannot decipher the warnings within. As Barcelona explodes in revelry on the Festival of St Joan, Natalia Hernandez, flower of the National Theatre, lies broken on the steps of the Cathedral. Barcelona, winter 2014: Anna Verco - academic, book thief, savant - unearths letters hidden for centuries from a lightning-struck chapel in Mallorca. What they reveal compels her and Fabregat to revive the Hernandez investigation. The author, by the way, is the granddaughter of John le Carré, the spy thriller maestro. Find out if Jessica is a chip off the old block!

Two high-end, Spain-themed cookery books are available to order…

Arzak Secrets(l), published originally published in Spanish, becomes available in English for the first time. It is the behind-scenes recipe and technique book from the world-famed New Basque cuisine restaurant Arzak, in Donostia/San Sebastián, where chef Juan Mari Arzak’s kitchen is a laboratory for flavours, aromas and textures.  Gorgeously photographed, it is not only for professionals looking for inspiration, but for any dedicated cook committed to understanding the creative development and innovations behind this exceptional food.3

MoVida Solera (l) is a journey with Australian restaurateur Frank Camorra as he searches for the traditional recipes of Andalucía - a land of ancient cities, whitewashed villages, and plains planted with olive groves and vineyards. The largest and southernmost of Spain’s regions is a place where cultures and cuisines have always coalesced. Along the way, the Spanish-born chef takes in riotous spring festivals, lively markets and peaceful sherry bodegas, and reveals his favourite places to eat, drink and stay. From an olive picker’s breakfast to cuttlefish in saffron sauce and the smoky lamb skewers, pinchitos morunos, this is a celebration of Andalucía’s food and culture.