The Lady from Spain

6" x 9" (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
pages: 284
Published by RukBooks November 17, 2014
ISBN-13: 978-0692292846
ISBN-10: 0692292845
Smashwords Epub ISBN: 978-1310584589

Trade Paperback: $15.95

All e-Pub versions: $4.99
About The Lady from Spain

No sound forewarns with more terror than does a rap on the door after midnight. Whoever knocks in a black hour never comes with good news. And when the knock is suspected, predicted -- there have been rumors, weighted whispers, warnings, and there have been reports by others that at the edge of the neighborhood already some had heard such a knock -- the sound enlarges, takes monstrous shape: a gargantuan specter, a protean haunt, a massive golem, a towering creature made of shadow and evil, and it knows your name.

October, the seventeenth day, 1939, a quarter past the second hour, one such knock rings on a door. The people affected by that night, a night constituted by the pen in the hand of a little bureaucrat, changes everything for one family in mid-century Spain. Señora Dolores is ruined, Luna is conceived, Maria and Isabella are devastated, and the youngest, Mora, is propelled into wreckage and greed.

And last affected, though not even born on that the night of ruination, is Lucia. The child is cast into an orphanage and savage life... until rescued by an American Naval man and his wife.
An Amazon customer review:
4.0 out of 5 stars
By Case Quarter Vine, on April 1, 2015
The heroine of LADY FROM SPAIN, Manuela Maria Iglesias y Serrano, 're-surnamed with Ruk and Moore', was standing in line at a street kiosk, 'an old-fashioned news agency chock-a-block with notions, toys, greeting cards, doodads and newspapers, with a cashier's counter set directly before an always open door' in Philadelphia waiting to buy school supplies for her daughters. In line ahead of her, his own purchases in hand, was Charles Bechtel, author of the postmodern novel in which she appears and the man who would become her husband. Accounts of events of her life as a child in the catholic orphanage system in Seville, Spain, of her matriarchal lineage of mother, aunts, and grandmother, and her arrival to the United States, are chronicled in a variety of vignettes which read like descriptions of paintings seen either through a diaphanous curtain or on a faded frieze. Either way, the fabric in motion sways and distorts what is seen. We know the pictures are pretty and, as with the progress series of the English painter, William Hogarth, that there is a story.

If at the end of the first of two parts of this book the reader is frustrated, the intrusion of the author in the second part expresses and explains that very frustration through a series of essays detailing the facts of the Manuela's story viewed vaguely behind or on the curtain, the missing parts of her history, Bechtel's reflections on Spanish and Californian Cathedrals, dress making, Catherine Aragon, literature and arranged marriages, and his insights into the ethnic neighborhoods of Philadephia during the mid to later part of the 20th century.

Bechtel has pieced together the story of his wife as a kind of Borgesian version of a tale of Victor Hugo's Cossette taken from LES MISERABLES, using the sensibility of an artist, the tools of fiction, history, detective work and speculation.

Charles Bechtel is a thoughtful writer, and Manuela's story, in his hands, is captivating, one you should read