A gripping introduction to the dangers of allowing the rise of the ultra-right, or in fact fanaticism of any sort, mixed with Spanish history. I’m already looking forward to the sequel!
A thoroughly enjoyable thriller that maintains its suspense right to the very end. The author captures Spanish life expertly with his attention to detail references to local wines, food, cities and history from the period of the Christian reconquest of Spain from the Moors. The threat posed by the rise of the far right in Spain and across Europe is successfully interwoven into the plot.
Beautifully atmospheric descriptions that fully submerge you in Spanish culture and leave you with a desire to go and visit Granada and the Alhambra. Modern, relatable and imperfect characters who you could easily be friends with, or in some cases, dislike immensely! I really enjoyed learning about Spanish history and politics as I read and I found myself doing my own research along with each chapter. I love that the history is so entwined in the story and it doesn’t feel at all rammed down your throat or like you are reading a textbook. As another reviewer stated, I think it would make a fantastic film. To summarise: an excellent read.
‘Unputdownable’ is greatly overused in general, but this novel qualifies unreservedly! It is not simply a whodunnit but combines fascinating Spanish history with modern storyline. The characters are developed throughout the unfolding story as history becomes inextricably linked to political movements. Thought provoking and intriguing. It would make a fabulous film. Can’t wait for the next novel from this exciting new author!
I felt I was living the adventure and intrigue and learnt so much about the history of Spain. The story flowed well and snd the characters were strong. A remarkable first book. I would love see a sequel.
It is an amazing feeling to have my book out in the public domain and to see photos like the one below of it in someone’s hands – but also in a way it’s a little strange – it’s like letting my children go – watching them move off into the world and I can no longer look after them!!
Lucy and Alvaro and the others have been with me and me only since 2018 – but they now need to spread their wings – if you read ‘Let the Dead Hold Your Hand’ I hope you like them as much as I do. Some of them will return in the sequel, hopefully at the end of this year. Thank you to so many of you for your kind words and support along the way and to all of you who have bought it. I wish I could give you all a hug! Happy Reading what ever book you choose or have on the go!
La trama de mi novela – Lucy E Hawksmoor, la autoridad sobre todas las cosas árabes, encuentra el presente rompiendo en el pasado, ya que grupos de extrema derecha tratan de detener su búsqueda para encontrar el lugar de descanso final de Boabdil, el último Rey de los Moros. Conoce a la misteriosa y atractiva Gloria cuya familia afirma haber guardado el secreto de su ubicación durante 600 años. Lucy, inconsciente del peligroso mundo al que está entrando, recibe amenazas de muerte y luego un estudiante musulmán es asesinado. Ella está sumida en un mundo de pesadilla, sin saber en quién puede confiar. ¿Es Gloria quien dice ser? ¿Hasta dónde irán sus enemigos para detenerla? A medida que los disturbios arrasan Granada, la búsqueda de la tumba de Boabdil por parte de Lucy se convierte en una bomba de tiempo política, que pondrá en peligro la vida de todos los involucrados.
Nací en Manchester y estudié inglés y drama allí antes de entrar en el mundo de la educación que me puso por un tiempo antes de que lograra escapar a Madrid donde vivo y trabajo. Paso la mayor parte de mi tiempo escribiendo, así como leyendo ampliamente, caminando, a menudo sin rumbo, alrededor de las laberínticas calles de los barrios de esta maravillosa ciudad, tocando la guitarra, viendo gatos y cocinando. Mi primera novela, «Deje que los muertos tengan la mano», me llevó tres años investigar y escribir. Pasé mucho tiempo en las mágicas calles de Córdoba, Granada, Sevilla y Zaragoza leyendo sobre todo árabe y visitando muchos lugares y edificios hermosos. Bebo mucho vino tinto y me encanta escuchar música árabe y guitarra flamenca mientras escribo. Gracias por visitar mi página!
Granada, Spain1492 Boabdil, the last King of the Moors, is making plans that could change the course of history forever.Meanwhile, the Christian Queen and King, Isabella and Ferdinand arrive to claim the Alhambra, the last piece in their jigsaw of reconquest that ends a magnificent 800 year Arab rule of Al-Andalus.The actions of all three set in motion a chain of events that will resonate across the next centuries. But Boabdil’s plan is far more long term.
2017 Lucy E. Hawksmoor, lecturer, history detective, and finds the present crashing in on the past as far-right groups try to stop her quest to find the final resting place of Boabdil, the last King of the Moors. Lucy meets the mysterious Gloria who claims to have clues to its location. Lucy is unaware of the danger until she receives threats and an Muslim student is murdered. But who can she trust? Is Gloria who she claims to be or a member of a Jihadist group? Is Inspector Gomez up to the task of tackling such violence and protecting Lucy? As Far Right groups from across Europe gather in Granada something has to give. Will Lucy find Boabdil’s tomb before her enemies, and if she does, what will be the consequences for the Muslims of Spain?
When I first moved to Madrid in 2017, I decided to do some travelling around Spain. I visited Cordoba, Granada and Zaragoza and I was completely enthralled by the architecture. The more I read about the 800 years that the Moors of Al-Andalus spent in Spain, the more I was fascinated by them. I decided to learn as much as I could about their culture, history and their writings, particularly their poetry. Back home in Madrid I was also becoming aware of the rise of the far right both in Spain and across Europe. I needed to understand the background as to why people were turning in certain areas to such extreme politics and racist views. I read as much as I could about the Spanish history from the time of the Reconquista to the civil war of 1936-39. I already could see what was happening in Britain post the Brexit vote and the problems it was causing for minorities and foreigners on those shores. I then came across an excellent online newsletter called opendemocracy – https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/ – and was staggered to learn how quietly and insidiously the far right were spreading their tentacles across Europe, often under the guise of nationalism. At the same time, I read a book that was to change my life, The Moor’s Last Stand by Elizabeth Drayson. It tells the story of Boabdil the last ruler of Granada, a story to quote the blurb ‘of intrigue, treachery, cruelty, bravery and tragedy.’ His defeat at the hands of Isabella and Ferdinand, the Catholic Monarchs, has ‘reverberated powerfully down the centuries.’ Indeed it has. This book is not only an excellent introduction to the last days of Muslim Spain, but it was also the inspiration for my novel. I realised I just had to write about Boabdil and try to imagine what might have happened under other circumstances and more so, through my protagonist, Lucy E Hawksmoor.
There are flashbacks to set the scene, though most of the story is set in the 21st century. I wanted to reflect how there are people in politics today in Spain who want to enact a new Reconquista – forcing out those the far right see as non-Spanish, including Muslims, Jews, homosexuals, gypsies as well as limiting or preventing freedoms from abortion to gay marriage. And what better way than to stir up the hornet’s nest than suggesting what might happen if the history books are wrong – if Boabdil did not leave Spanish shores – if his body could still be on the mainland and how that might annoy those racists who fear a new rise in appreciation of all things Muslim should his resting place become a shrine.
For Isabella and Ferdinand to suggest they were claiming back Spain for the Spanish is ridiculous. The Moors had lived in Spain for 800 years – they were Spanish. It was simply a desire for power – using religion as an excuse.
There is a pettiness in racist behaviour. And Lucy experiences it first-hand – and how that pettiness can become lethal when these people’s ideology becomes all consuming. But the story hopefully also raises awareness that this movement of the far right is widespread across Europe. Often little reported in the U.K. press. For example, how many in the U.K know how strong Vox, a far-right party, are becoming in the Spanish government? How they are currently propping up the conservative PP party in Madrid.
But in the end, I also wrote it because I wanted to write a book that reflects all that is wonderful about the 800 years of the Moors in Spain, and to introduce a new kind of hero, Lucy Hawksmoor, whose life is turned upside down by events beyond her control. And through her I want the reader to experience all that is good about Spain, from the food to the architecture to the ordinary people, as well as showing how history does matter and we need to learn from the past to avoid making the same mistakes. It is a mystery, a thriller, a political commentary and at times a love story. I have already started the sequel.
I hope you like Lucy and I hope you too will let the dead hold your hand as, with her, you follow her quest for the truth and to stand up for what is right.
ABU ABDALLAH MUHAMMAD X1, KNOWN AS BOABDIL RULER OF GRANADA 1482-1492
A curtain is drawn I shield my eyes To not see But I feel Despite the years And all the tears. A fountain springs Brings to life Memories that bless. Behind the veil She calls to me
Pulls my world into hers. A butterfly dies Beauty begs for life A keyhole closes A lock turns. And I try to understand But I’m weak. Her face fades And a church rises Where once we lay.
Stones Tell tales. Listen. They speak. They’re speaking now. Touch their cold hard hearts Faintly beating. A Moor cries A Jew sighs Every day for centuries. Beauty buried deep Crawls from the very walls They built. And I stand here Feeling guilt. I know not why – But these stones, And their stories Will not die. Listen.
LOVE SONG TO CORDOBA
It hurts my heart to leave To slip away At an early hour Like the lover I never thought I’d be Leaving behind Your scented breath Your olive skin. Beneath your gaze I could lie for hours Listening to your stories Sharing all your glories And feelings of sadness Deep inside you When your world Was turned upside down Forever. But your beauty Hasn’t faded You’ll lure me back again I know. Take my hand Through narrow Whitewashed floral streets And caress my cheeks With your orange blossom kisses Beneath the ancient Crescent moon Who watches over you Every Arabian night Til I can return And let you Fold me once more In your soft brown arms Your magical love….. Your Cordoban charms
THE MOOR’S PROMISE
(Boabdil and his mother -January 2nd 1492)
An unforgiving sun Beats down Like a Christian sword Destroying the fabric Of the land And all that holds her world together. Incessant drumming Pierces her skull Leaving her already torn senses To scatter in the warm wind Like a dead bird’s feathers. She sighs. Then weeps. Gazes silently At the beckoning Alpujarras. Aware of filial eyes Scanning her posture Looking to see if she too Is breaking. She spies an eagle. Wings buckling Beneath the weight Of the hard Granadan air. It is a sign. She knows. The king is bending his knee. To a tyrant. Right is on their side But today Allah is not. She turns Now dry eyed And her son In regal red Bows. Hols out his hand. We will return He whispers. Our time is not of the here and now. But we leave our breath Our beating hearts Burning Beneath the Gates of the Seven Floors. One day. We will arise. Spanish Moors. Proud and defiant. Now Seal the doors ‘Til we once more We ride through. No tears. No last sigh. We hand over keys That are physical. But the keys we keep Cannot be taken Cannot be copied. They were forged Eight hundred years ago. As we ride Look forward – Never back. Mother – take my hand. We may be leaving Our land But –
Our blood, Our soul Will forever be Within these walls.
THE BOOK THAT STARTED MY JOURNEY AND INSPIRED ME TO WRITE MY NOVEL
‘The Moor’s Last Stand presents the poignant story of Boabdil, the last Muslim king of Granada. Betrayed by his family and undermined by faction and internal conflict, Boabdil was defeated in 1492 by the forces of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of the newly united kingdoms of Castile and Aragon. The Christian victory marked the completion of the long Christian re-conquest of Spain and ended seven centuries in which Christians, Muslims, and Jews had, for the most part, lived peacefully and profitably together. Five centuries after his death, Boabdil continues to be a potent symbol of resistance to the forces of western Christendom, and his image endures in contemporary culture. Based on original research in the region by a leading historian of Granada, this book presents a vivid account of Boabdil’s life and times and considers the impact of his defeat then and now.’
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED FOR ANYONE INTERESTED IN THIS PERIOD AND SUBJECT MATTER – BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN AND A BOOK I COULD NOT PUT DOWN. BEST IN ITS FIELD.
‘Elizabeth Drayson specialises in medieval and early modern Spanish literature and cultural history, and has a particular interest in the Arabic, Jewish, and Christian cultures of medieval and Golden Age Spain, as well as in the relationship between medieval literature, art and film. Her publications include the first translation and edition of Juan Ruiz’s Libro de buen amor to appear in England (Everyman edition), as well as essays and articles on the Libro de buen amor, Berceo and the Poema de mio Çid. She is the author of The King and the Whore: King Roderick and La Cava, The New Middle Ages series, (London and New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2007) which charts the reception of the legend of Roderick, last Visigothic king of Spain. Elizabeth has published several articles on the legend in medieval and early modern chronicles and early art, as well as giving numerous conference papers on the subject. Her monograph, The Lead Books of Granada, Early Modern History series (Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan, 2013, paperback, 2016) evaluates the cultural status and importance of the polyvalent, ambiguous artefacts known as the lead books, which were discovered on a hillside in late sixteenth-century Granada and embody many of the dualities and paradoxes inherent in the racial and religious dilemmas of Early Modern Spain.