The recent passing of my grandmother has made me think of how some of my favourite books depict grandparents and family relations.
My grandmother passed away on 6 October 2020. Due to COVID-19 related restrictions, I was not able to go to Spain to attend her funeral and say a proper goodbye to her. It has been hard. It has made this year even harder. I am aware of how privileged I am and know that many other people have had a much harder year than me. However, I still feel the pain her absence is causing every day.
My grandmother was born on the early 1930s just before the Spanish civil war and grew up during Franco’s dictatorship.
Like many Andalusian women of her generation, she did not have the opportunity to go to school. Her family was not wealthy and, when my grandmother was still a child, her mother died, her father remarried and she started working as a housemaid. In fact, she learned how to read and write after she become a widow in her 60s. I remember how, sometimes, my sister and I helped her with her homework after lunch.
Her name was Dolores, which in Spanish literally translates into ‘pains’. Contrary to what one may expect, my grandmother was not bitter nor resentful about her past. She always talked about it with a sense of joy and a great sense of humour.
She was a funny lady who loved cracking jokes and was happiest in a bar with her sons and daughters.
She was forward-thinking and accepting. She was full of love and life.
I often wonder what she might have become had she had access to a proper education because she was a very clever woman who knew how to tell a story.
These past months, I have been thinking a lot about her, my parents and my extended Andalusian family. This had made me think of how some of my favourite books depict grandparents and family relations.
My grandmother was not bitter nor resentful about her past – she always talked about it with a sense of joy
Favourite family sagas
Below, are three of my favourite family sagas that I wish my grandmother could have read:
Author Isabel Allende (Plaza & Janés, 1982) (translated into English by Magda Bogin)
Front cover visual of first Spanish edition (link)
When Isabel Allende received news that her grandfather was dying, she began writing a letter that became the manuscript of The House of The Spirits. This Chilean novel tells the story of the Trueba family through four different generations.
Author Gabriel García Márquez (Editorial Sudamericana, 1967) (translated into English by Gregory Rabassa)
Front cover of the first Spanish edition (link)
This novel was written by Gabriel García Márquez, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982. It is considered a masterpiece of Latin American and universal literature, as well as one of the most widely translated and read works in Spanish. The book tells the story of the Buendía family across seven generations in the fictional town of Macondo and it is considered one of the finest examples of magic realism.
Author Almudena Grandes (Tusquets, 2002) (translated into English by Sonia Soto)
Front cover of the first Spanish edition (linkhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Almudena_Grandes)
Juan Olmedo and Sara Gómez are two strangers who flee from their past and settle in a seaside town in Cadiz where they try to rebuild their lives and understand their family history and, in a way, the history of Spain.
As usual, this a limited and very personal selection of the books about families. Let us know in the comments if you have any other recommendations, we would love to hear from you!
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