Spanish Recognitions by Mary Lee Settle
The Road from the Past

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Synopsis

A book of discovery, in which the landscape of Spain, its history, and its people flow together, each explaining the other. At the age of eighty-two, Mary Lee Settle set off alone to find the Spain she thought she knew from guidebooks, from friends, and even from her own earlier trip there. But, like Columbus on another voyage of discovery, she found something - many things - that she hadn't even known she was looking for. Winner of a National Book Award for fiction and author of an acclaimed book of travel and history on Turkey, Settle brings to her task the visual equivalent of perfect pitch. She has no interest in tourist destinations; instead she follows, slowly and with no itinerary, the great, traumatic flows in Spanish history: the Moorish conquest from south to north, and the Christian 'reconquista', several hundred years later in the opposite direction. Those epic struggles, shaped by geography, are the source of the fascinating tensions in the Spanish character, in its art, architecture, and literature, and the author's magical prose puts these gifts in our hands. With a map and 12 pages of illustrations.
 

About Mary Lee Settle

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Historical fiction novelist Mary Lee Settle was born in Charleston, West Virginia on July 29, 1918. She attended Sweet Briar College in Virginia for two years, before becoming a fashion model. During World War II, she volunteered for service in the women's auxiliary arm of the Royal Air Force. After the war, she briefly worked as a magazine editor before deciding to become a full-time writer. She was also an associate professor at Bard College from 1965 to 1976 and taught at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Settle's experiences as the only American in a barracks full of British women is recalled in the book All the Brave Promises: Memories of Aircraft Woman 2nd Class 214391. Her massive work, The Beulah Quintet, tells the story of the state of West Virginia from 1754 to the present and begins with the journey of former English prisoners to West Virginia's Kanawha Valley. She won the National Book Award in 1978 for Blood Tie, which is the story of American and British expatriates in Turkey and was written while she was living there. A prevailing theme throughout all her novels is the struggle for freedom at all levels, including intimately, domestically, and historically. Settle died on September 27, 2005, at the age of 87, from lung cancer.
 
Published March 1, 2004 by W. W. Norton & Company. 320 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Travel, History. Non-fiction

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I wanted to discover it, not have it pointed out to me by friends, guidebooks, experts, or that most powerful of modern Big Brothers, controlled tourism.” Armed with copies of Cervantes and Garcia Lorca, as well as memories of the Spanish Civil War (as a teenager, she writes, she “fell in love wi...

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Publishers Weekly

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St. Teresa, who "wasn't afraid of God, the king, the papal nuncio who tried to stop her, or the devil himself," emerges in Avila, and in Tordesillas, Settle finds the queen whom history refers to as Juana la Loca de Amor, but whom Settle sees as "the victim of a hostile takeover."

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