Lucia Graves

Lucia Graves

The Memory House

The Shadow of the Wind

 

 

Lucia Graves has performed literary translation for twenty five years, publishing over thirty volumes, mostly from English into Spanish or Catalan and also translating works into English, such as The Columbus Papers. A Woman Unknown is her first original work, followed by The Memory House, a novel, first published in Spanish as La Casa de la Memoria.

Her latest translation, The Shadow of the Wind by Spanish writer Ruiz Zafón, is an internationally acclaimed bestseller. Together with a cast of colourful characters, Ruiz Zafón has created a superbly entertaining story in a florid literary style.

In the fine English of Lucia Graves, the original subtleties and wit of the book are conveyed complete with Zafón's rich similes and metaphors. The Shadow of the Wind is set among the secrets of post-war Barcelona, where the son of a bookseller is entrusted with a rare book by an almost forgotten author whose life and death is shrouded in mystery. It is a masterful novel of hope, mystery, and love that follows the young bibliophile as he discovers that someone has been destroying all copies of books by the forgotten author.

As his quest to uncover the life of this mysterious author continues, plunging deeper and deeper into the enigma, he encounters sudden disappearances, and a trail of many broken lives that give rise to a darker plan. Throughout the many twists and turns of an intricate and complex plot, entwined with passionate and forbidden love affairs, Carlos Ruiz Zafón introduces humorous interludes and eccentric secondary characters. This is an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love that someone will go to any lengths to keep secret.

The Memory House is the first novel by Lucia Graves. It is based on the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492 and tells the story of Alba de Porta who lives contentedly with her mother Regina in a large old house in the Jewish quarter of Girona, on the northeast coast of Spain.

Raised by her grandfather, an enlightened Rabbi who instilled in her the rudiments of Jewish mystical thought, Alba undertakes to preserve an important religious text when her family is expelled from Spain by Monarchs' decree. Prevented from carrying the text with her, Alba is asked to memorise it in order to ensure its safe exit from Spain.

She uses the architecture of her family home as a memorising aid to retain the words of the book in her mind; thus, when she leaves, she also takes with her the house of her ancestors and its entire contents on what proves to be an eventful and difficult journey, crossing the Pyrenees into Southern France, then travelling on to Italy and finally reaching the Ottoman Empire.

The memorised book plays a fundamental role in Alba's story: it guides her through the labyrinth of life, love and death and at the end of the journey is the key that will open the door of her past and reveal an unexpected secret.

The Memory House has also been published in Turkish by Gözlem as Anilar Evi, in Spanish as La casa de la memoria published by Seix Barral, and is due to be published soon in France by Anatolia.

Emerging from the shadow of her illustrious father, Lucia Graves shares a captivating autobiographical portrait of life in Spain in A Woman Unknown. A Woman Unknown traces Lucia's childhood on the island of Majorca during the Franco dictatorship, her studies in Geneva and Oxford, and the later years spent raising a family in Catalonia

Both at one with the people of Spain and apart, Lucia found herself continually bridging the gaps between Catalan, Spanish and English, as she picked up the patterns and nuances that contain the essence of each culture.

"Although many English writers have opened windows on Spain ...none has done it so intimately and so personally as Lucia Graves. This is a book of high literary achievement and extraordinary humanity." TLS

"Her memoir is layered, just as she is, echoing the struggles of a divided people to become whole again." The Daily Telegraph

"A highly revealing account, not only of a woman's life, but of a whole extraordinary passage in one contemporary European country... it should be read by everybody interested in Spain and in women's special history in the present century." Financial Times  

Lucia describes her experience at the International School of Geneva in a chapter entitled 'Raining in my Heart':

In that community we were all displaced persons - like my Latvian ballet teacher - and at night, when the lights went out in the bedrooms, and the photographs on the walls darkened into squares of absence, we each revisited our private Ithaca. We would return to our homes in our country of origin, perhaps remembering the way a garden gate squeaked in the wind, or the details of an old landscape print that had always hung in the corridor. I always thought of the cove in the summer, with the sea sparkling in the sun, and the taste of the fish soup served by the fishermen every day in their small café. Or of the tall palm trees by the farmhouses, so majestic, so African.

   ...But what really glued us together was the music the Americans brought with them. Rock and roll, which in itself was the product of the encounter of two cultures, became our common language, the language that overruled all others. Its lyrics influenced the way we felt and thought. Its rhythm superimposed itself over the different rhythms of our home countries.

   It was like a fever, and even today, when I hear 'Blue Suede Shoes', 'Only the Lonely', 'Dream, Dream, Dream', or any of the Buddy Holly songs, I am back there, I can see it all again: the Saturday-night dances in the hall, the dining-room chairs and tables stacked up in a corner, the girls waiting for the boys to come over and ask them to dance, the excitement of being asked by one of the good dancers - Mike or Álvaro or Tom. During the afternoon we had spent hours going through the latest dance steps up on the girls' floor. We had wandered around in curlers, plucking our eye-brows or painting our nails, wondering what to wear. My wardrobe was not as well stocked as those of the American girls - most of my skirts and dresses had been made by the dressmaker in Palma and were not wide enough to twirl gracefully back and forth when I jived. But, then, I was British, I reminded myself, I did not want to look American. I clung to any strand of certitude I found within my emerging individuality.

   I remember the day we heard that Buddy Holly had died in a plane crash. Someone had picked up the news on the radio. Girls were running up and down the corridor, knocking on doors, crying: 'Have you heard? Oh, my God, oh, my God!' We could not believe it, we were devastated, he was such an idol. His records were played over and over again that day, and we cried as much for ourselves, for the pain of growing up, as for him. Somehow his songs had the power to reflect what we all felt, far from our homes, and after his death his 'Raining in my Heart' became the song we all associated with the boarding school; it became our anthem.

As the months and the years went by my picture of Spain gradually became distorted. I had lost touch with its reality and the gap between my two cultures was now growing increasingly wider. When I invited my boarding-school friends over for summer holidays all they saw of my Spanish world was the picture-postcard beauty of the Mediterranean landscape from the terrace of my British home - for them it was just an appropriate backdrop to Louis Prima's 'Buona Sera', or a would-be film set for a Hollywood romance. How could I share the other Spain, the real one, with them? Sister Valentina, Father Velasco, the Protestant family in the top flat, the novice in the dairy shop, the men with the sandwiches wrapped up in newspaper, the women sweeping the pavements in their dressing gowns - what would all that have meant to my American friends? They would have regarded it only in terms of backwardness, backwardness measured against their well-developed capitalist system. What did it mean to me, now that I saw it from the outside? I no longer felt that I had anything in common with Francisca or the other girls from the convent, and had few Spanish friends from my generation. And yet there was a warmth, a private warmth that was kept alive by my occasional encounters with Blanca, with Jimena, and with the older people of the mountain village who had known me all my life; a warmth unshared, a dormant love that could be stirred by a single strum from a guitar.

From amazon.com (USA):

The Shadow of the Wind

The Memory House

A Woman Unknown - Voices from a Spanish life

Mujer desconocida

Edited by Lucia Graves:

Robert Graves: Complete Short Stories

Kindle eBook Editions:

The Shadow of the Wind

From amazon.com (UK):

A Woman Unknown - Voices from a Spanish life

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