Forgotten Women is a story that will hold you enthralled. The women mentioned were once the best of friends, fighting to keep alive during the Spanish Civil War. Secrets from the time have been buried because they feared for their life. An innocuous painting riles everything up, and we begin to hear the story of Libby, Charlotte and Rosita.
Author: Freda Lightfoot
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (September 6, 2016)
Forgotten Women alternates between the current time and history. Jo, an artist herself, has found the painting in question in her attic. A Spanish man turns up claiming the painting is a fake. Jo takes a break to go to Spain where she meets Rosita, who is terminally ill. Her dying wish is to reunite with her long lost friends. The story unfolds as Rosita tells them about what went down in 1939.
Libby, Laurence and Charlotte, childhood friends from Scotland, join the International Brigade and go to Spain to volunteer. They spend a hard few years tending to the ill and the injured. The story takes us through a detailed account of their life, their aspirations, dalliances and disasters. No one knows what happened to them after the Brigade was called back home and Jo wants to learn it all. She finds many similarities between her life and the old story. She also wonders about her parentage.
The historical narrative is fraught with tension and gets a bit heavy at times. But the pace is fast enough and we get involved with the characters, enough that we want to read ahead and find out what happened. I read the book in many installments, but I did return to it every time because I felt a compulsion to know what happened next.
Forgotten Women might make you gloomy, especially on a cold, dark, day, but it is a good story and a good read.