The Winterlings – Cristina Sanchez-Andrade (Scribe 2016)

Day 44 without internet access.  It does seem that EE, the broadband providers are now trying to do what they can but are continually thwarted by BT, who have been saying “another 48 hours, another 48 hours” for weeks now.


It’s to Galicia in the early 1950’s that celebrated Spanish author Sanchez-Andrade takes us in her latest novel.  The reader needs to put into place a fair amount of suspension of disbelief and immerse themselves into her fictional world, which is a little odd, but does feel steeped in oral tradition and folk tale.  As well as feeling European it also reminds me of the South American magical realism genre,

Two sisters, nicknamed The Winterlings return to their deceased grandfather’s house having spent the  war years in England.  The villagers, chock a block with tradition and superstition know that the women have a secret and also want them to absolve them from a deal made with their grandfather.  Dolores has ambitions to be an actress which she believes will be fulfilled when Ava Gardner arrives nearby to film “Pandora And The Flying Dutchman” (1951) whilst sister Saladina is more concerned in getting the local dentist, with whom she is enamoured, to give her a full set of teeth.  The whole thing buzzes with the surrealism of small village life.  People become summed up by a few  actions and the past can never be forgotten.  The novel is translated by Samuel Rutter who manages to bring alive the vibrancy of Sanchez-Andrade’s use of language.  The sisters come across as strong characters in a tale which felt for me a little too distanced from reality and too whimsical for my taste. I am aware that this type of writing has a lot of fans all over Europe and those who have been enchanged by  Jonas Jonassen , Frederik Backman, Rachel Joyce and Catharina Ingleman-Sundberg  (and other writers of this ilk) will find this a worthwhile read .


The Winterlings was published by Scribe in  August 2016.  I would like to thank the good people at Scribe for the review copy.

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