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Red Doll by Juan Luis Cebrian
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This is one of those wonderful European novels that, had it been written in English, would never have found an anglophone publisher: it's not slick, it doesn't follow well-worn paths, it requires the reader to think a bit, etc. In the aftermath of the long Franco nightmare, Juan, an advisor to the Spanish President, is in Paris for a conference when he and a much younger attendee, the startlingly redheaded Begona, fall head-over-heels in love. It's not something either can resist, despite the fact that Juan does still love his family and Begona in many ways dislikes everything Juan stands for.

Even amid his passion, Juan knows his country's secret services will be aware of his adulterous affair; what he underestimates is the extent to which the various factions within Spain's still turbulent power structure will attempt to make use of the information. And, when this does become evident, he faces a tormenting question: was he merely seduced by his Red Doll as a political gambit, or is their near-obsessive love genuine?

The translation's good. This isn't a very long book, and I picked it up expecting to read it fairly quickly; in the event I found myself taking the time to savour it. ( )
  JohnGrant1 | Aug 11, 2013 |
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