The house on the beach by Joan Fallon

Most cases of monkeypox in Madrid are associated with a sauna.

THE House on the Beach is a novel set in the years after the Civil War, in a Spain ruled by the military dictator Francisco Franco.

This is a time when women had little independence; they were expected to lead prescribed lives, dominated by first their fathers and then their husbands.

Rocio and Inma first meet as children. 

Despite coming from very different social backgrounds they form a close friendship.

Rocio is the daughter of an Andalucian peasant, who makes his living from the land, growing olives and keeping goats; Inma is the daughter of a rich businessman, who lives and works in Madrid.

The story follows the lives of these two girls from childhood to maturity, as they share happiness, fears, disappointments, broken hearts and betrayals.

Rocio is a shy and trusting girl, who becomes easily seduced by a handsome foreigner, while Inma, confident and manipulative, is the one who saves her from disgrace and the inevitable expulsion from the family home.

Inma, a university student, soon becomes involved in student demonstrations and political subterfuge; all of which she confides to Rocio.

But when Inma too becomes pregnant, things take a more sinister turn and her subsequent actions have a devastating affect on Rocio and her husband.

This social drama of two women trying to take control of their lives, despite living under a harsh dictatorship, offers a glimpse of what life was like in an authoritarian State, with an ever watchful Catholic Church and the close strictures of society.

Book review by Gabrielle Devon

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