"...and in any case, say only [blank] were fighting this war it is being fought for an issue which is everyone's immediate concern everywhere. It is a war waged by the forces of militaristic absolutism against democracy."
"But it is no good. The cathedral is on your conscience. You paid good money and took some trouble to get here to see it, and you can sit in a café anywhere. Ah, turismo, what a slave-driver you are!"
O'Brien arrives by boat in the north. She visits Santander, Compostela, Salamanca, Ávila:
"All the rest of the town [Ávila] is lovely. It slithers carelessly about the sides of a golden hill and west and south down to the Adaja. It is placed high, but far away on every side the cold points of mountains fence its landscape in."
O'Brien is quite taken with Saint Teresa of Ávila, and went on to write a book about her. (She had been raised Catholic, but was agnostic as an adult.) She gets to Madrid, by then under attack from the Nationalist forces, though it hasn't yet fallen. Her final stop is Burgos. The edition I have is a Virago reprint from 1985 with illustrations and an introduction by Mary O'Neill, her life partner.
I've never read anything else by Kate O'Brien (have you?) and I quite liked it. She's best known as a novelist, I think. I'm going to have find other of her books.
I read it now because we're going to Spain soon for a little over two weeks. (Yay!) This was the trip we'd planned for two years ago, but then had to cancel at the last minute. We'll mostly be in the south (Córdoba, Granada, the Alhambra) so, in fact, the book didn't do much to prepare me, but that's OK, but it was still pretty good...
It's nice to be able to go somewhere again.
And not only is this a place I want to go visit, it is a place I'm actually going to go visit!