Pablo Solares-Acebal is a talented young author from Villaviciosa, Asturias (Province) in Spain. Recently, he provided me with a pre-release copy of his novel The 6th of November to read and review.
Today, I share a review of this historical novel set around the time of the Spanish Civil War, and I will also share some of the author's own words relating to the story.
Incidentally, there is a film adaptation in the works! Pablo Solares-Acebal said that his friend, Daniel Cabrero, is directing a Spanish film based on the novel.
Don Paco, a dying priest, narrates this story that takes place between 1935-1939 in Requejado, a real village in Mieres, deep in the heart of Asturias' mining basin. This is an excerpt from Don Paco's introduction to the story (subject to change, as this a pre-release copy):
I, the town priest and representative of God on earth...write my memoirs
to share them with future generations. I am a soul in pain whose
words may help show the way to those who are lost...May my words carry more fortune than the lives of those inhabitants about whom I write...
Don Paco begins his painful memoirs with seventeen-year-old Gloria, a poor, impressionable beauty who falls in love with Rulfo, a young man whose parents farm and own apple orchards in Asturias. Because Rulfo's middle-of-the-road political stance differs from the political ideals of Gloria's father, Gloria's family will not consent to the young couple's engagement. Rulfo and Gloria eventually elope, anyway, and choose to bring up their baby daughter, Maria, in Requejado, not far from where Rulfo's Loyalist parents live.
Rulfo has an older brother, Benigno, who has left home against his father's wishes to fight with the Spanish Loyalist faction.
Rulfo and Benigno's parents are Maria Dolores and Anselmo. Maria Dolores, also called Lola, and Don Paco, the priest narrating the novel, are close friends; Don Paco lives and prays in a location visible from the home of Gloria and Rulfo. Anselmo, husband to Lola and father to Rulfo and Benigno, is a little unstable and difficult to live with. He often writes but does not share his writing with anyone, not even his wife, Lola. One fateful day, Anselmo's sudden and unexpected death ends Lola's unhappy marriage to him. Lola then begins devoting her life to doting on and caring for her new grandchild, Maria.
On a lonely night not long after Anselmo's death, Lola, unable to sleep, peruses Anselmo's writing in search of anything he might have written about their marriage or their children and their lives together until she comes across what she believes is a journal confession by Anselmo that he and Gloria slept together and that Maria is their love child. Lola believes what Anselmo wrote, and her anger, jealousy, and hatred of Gloria fester until, eventually, she writes a letter implicating Gloria as a Nationalist.
This letter will bring Rulfo's brother Benigno, along with other soldiers of the Loyalist faction, to Requejado, where no mercy will be shown for anyone. Solares-Acebal writes, "That 6th of November, the sun set on Requejado forever."
The novel shows the horror and terror of war. It has a mysterious fortune-teller who communicates with the dead. It leaves us feeling terrified over a missing baby girl and her heartbroken mother, and it reminds us of war's widows, many of whom receive no official word about their missing husbands and assume they are buried in mass graves along with countless others who remain nameless. Add in visions that make it difficult to know what is real, ghosts in alternate realities, and post-war souls searching for meaning in their lives and deaths--and you have a story that will remain with you forever.
The 6th of November will show you, through the characters in this novel, the Spanish Civil War's martyrs of the faith in a way the world has never seen or considered them before.
Read Pablo Solares-Acebal's answers to my questions about the novel:
WB: You write that Rulfo's parents own "arable fields." What is farmed where the novel is set?
PSA: The typical arable fields are appletrees for cider, potatoes, and beans.
WB: Is Benigno aware that his mother wrote the letter that brought the soldiers or of what is happening around him when the soldiers attack Requejado?
PSA: He may not be aware of who was killed. He is an archetype representing the hypocritical part of the war. They [the soldiers] came and killed without questioning.
WB: Is Anselmo really Maria's father?
PSA: That's ambigous and up to the reader.
WB: I read that you are a fan of Virginia Woolf's writing. She is one of my favorite authors, too. You used some of her techniques in this novel?
PSA: Well, I started reading To The Lighthouse when I had ended with the book like two years ago. Previously, I liked Mrs. Dalloway so much, and a lot of her essays on feminism have been crucial to the characterization.
The English release of The 6th of November is expected to be May 6, 2014 in the U.S. and March 9, 2014 in the UK and Austrailia. Check below to see how to follow the author to stay updated!
(To view the video of the author's interview with MÁS QUE ASTURIAS (on the Asturian channel MÁS QUE TELE. (c) & (P) MÁS QUE TELE) in English, choose closed captioning by clicking the tiny CC button that offers Spanish captioning within the YouTube window and then choose to have the captions translated.)
Follow Pablo Solares-Acebal:
Web site: http://pablosolaresacebal.com/