Book Club: Under The Spanish Stars

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Author: Alli Sinclair
ISBN: 9781760371616
RRP: $29.99

Alli Sinclair is a well traveled Australian author whose international adventures and love of dance inspire her story-telling, which is something that shines through in Under The Spanish Stars.

Katarina Sanchez has recently had a heart attack which causes her to take stock of her life and she decides the time is right to track down the origins of a mysterious painting given to her by her father. She is not well enough to undertake the journey herself so tasks her grand-daughter Charlotte with the mission. Sitting back now and pondering the story I wonder if there was more to it right from the beginning. Katarina and Charlotte are described by the family as being two peas in a pod, it has always been Charlotte who understands her Abuela Katarina the best.

Charlotte takes leave from her position in the family business, which she has little love for, and sets off for Granada – the homeland Abuela refuses to speak of. There were a few unexpected twists in this one that I don’t want to ruin for anyone, and a few that were fairly predictable; and one which has left me still with questions.

Katarina has been gone from Spain for decades and refuses to talk of her time there so none of her family are quite sure what happened to bring her to Australia which means this fact gathering mission could be quite the eye opener for the whole family.

The narrative is written in alternating chapters with Charlotte’s travels in the present and Katarina’s life in 1944. Both timelines are written in the third person which makes it very easy to follow. Sinclair has a poetic way with words that brings the landscape to life and evokes the artistic passion felt by the characters in the story.

We learn, through Charlotte’s travels, of her early artistic dreams to be a painter which were quashed by self-doubt and a less than resounding first exhibition. She gave up the dream to pursue a career in the family business as a risk assessor which has taken over every aspect of her life. Granada ignites the passion in her once more but she is determined to stick with the safe path.

under the spanish stars

Charlotte’s quest for the artist leads her to flamenco guitarist Mateo Vives, who has connections to the gypsy clan the artist belonged to, and brings her into the world of flamenco and gypsy culture. A world that is rich in colour and passion but quite closed off from outsiders, it is only her burgeoning friendship with Mateo which even gives her a look into their community living outside of town.

The story was vivid, the romance palpable, the passion of flamenco vibrant and the characters for the most part were quite well drawn. My biggest hurdle was the broken English Mateo used, I realise that Spanish is his native language and his English is secondary but there were times I found it very grating to read his dialogue. The language barrier between he and Charlotte sometimes made conversation, and understanding, stilted and I think that carried over into their relationship.

The history of the area and the gypsy clan was both tragic and fascinating and I loved reading about Katarina’s life in 1944, her courage and bravery was commendable. The history of flamenco was something completely new to me, all of the complexities, not to mention the trouble it could cause.

The mystery was quite compelling, and the desire of they gypsy clan not to remember their past was something I couldn’t fathom, no written records. I quite liked the reawakening of Charlotte’s artistic side and the vibrance it brought back to her life.

Under The Spanish Stars is a glorious tale of love, family, history and culture that will transport you to far off lands and lift your spirits to dance to the poetry captured on the page.

Under The Spanish Stars is Book #6 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2016.

Alli Sinclair can be contacted on Alli and Facebook.

Thanks to Harlequin 10 of our Beauty and Lace Club Members will be reading Under The Spanish Stars so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments.

10 thoughts on “Book Club: Under The Spanish Stars

  1. Thankyou BeautyandLace for the opportunity to review ‘ Under the spanish Stars’ by Alli Sinclair.
    It is a book of parellels and coincidence. It follows Charlotte as she travels to Granada, Spain at the request of her ill grandmother (Abuela) who wants to discover the history behind a painting and the artist of a painting given to her by her father. In Granada Charlotte meets Mateo Vines who helps in her quest. She with his assistance becomes involved with Flamenco and the close community of the Gitano. Charlotte has had a passionate interest in painting but has been working unhappily in her family’s Insurance firm. The book tells the story of Abuela and the connection to the painting, and of her involvement during the time of the Franco history of Spain. I learnt a lot about Spain’s history, especially interesting, a Flamenco guitarist must maintain immaculate fingernails to perform well and something I didn’t know that the carnation is the national flower of Spain. It is a book of passionate people, strength, courage, history, family secrets and love!

  2. Im always looking for new and interesting topics to learn about and Under the Spanish stars did just that. It felt like it took longer to read as the information and language woven into the story took some time to adjust to reading ( and trying to say in my mind) but it felt like I learnt something of Spain and its history, whether or not it is true!

    I think the author has a clever way of involving a story, love and history into the book and clearly she had a love of Spain, painting and dancing as the book was so informative. Usually I like to read a book in a few sittings but I had to keep putting it down before continuing later, but this in no way detracted from the book or story. Certainly , it wasnt what I expected.

    Another brilliant author cant wait to see what she brings out next!

  3. Under the Spanish Stars combines romance with history and mystery and in all a really good read.
    You are launched into the story as Charlotte, sent on a journey to reveal the past for her ill Abulea (Grandmother), makes her first contact in Granada Spain and you very quickly get the impression that its not going to be an easy task. Her Abulea has hidden so much of her Spanish past from the family and Charlotte has an uphill battle to combat time and culture.
    The story flits from the present and Charlotte’s searching for history (and herself as it would seem) and then back to Katarina (Abulea) who is not only finding herself in a world of Flamenco but also living in the turmoil that was Spain in 1944. Both have their love in the story, Katarina and her soul mate Raul and Charlotte who finds herself falling in love with a handsome Spanish guitarist who is helping her on this learned journey. There is dancing, gypsy heritage, descriptive places and the ever continuous search to find “duende”.
    It draws you in and has you transformed to another time and place, one of my favourite reasons to read. However, with the depth of Flamenco and the Spanish terminology that was used made it sometimes difficult to put yourself in their world. One really needed a bit more knowledge of the terms or flamenco dancing to get the whole picture, or at least I felt I did.
    I still loved the story, the intrigue, the history, romance and the journey into another time and place. Looking forward to the next installment from this author!

  4. Charlotte’s journey to discover family secrets in Spain was a beautiful mix of fiery passions and colourful history, love and loss.While this book was well written and enjoyable it didn’t engage me as much as I would have liked and it took me at least a week to read instead of the usual day or two 🙂 . I love books that grab your attention and demand to be read in one sitting!
    But what I did take away from this story was to not give up on your passion &dreams. Life can drag you down to the mundane with a job that pays the bills and makes ends meet, but don’t lose that spark that makes you “you”. It reminded me not to follow my dreams but to chase them instead.

  5. Under the Spanish Stars is a charming story of Charlotte who travels to Spain at the request of her grandmother to look into the history of a painting. The storyline mixes between modern day and the grandmother Katarina’s story and the parallels of finding your true self reflected in both. The description of Granada was beautiful and took my mind back to holidaying in Spain and the author captured the romanticism of the city well.
    I look forward to reading more from Alli Sinclair.

  6. A beautiful family story told with a lot of passion and heart. Loved the interweaving tales of Charlotte’s journey of self discovery with her grandmother Katarina’s story of self discovery as well. The magical and vivid descriptions of flamenco made me put down the book and go to youtube to watch some more dancing! Was beautiful to be introduced to the intricate and magical flamenco world through the experiences of both Charlotte and Katarina.

    I love historical romances and this book was beautifully written and made the past with all its magic and complexities come to life in vivid colours!

    The only thing I wonder about is why Katarina didn’t try to make contact with old friends in Spain to find out what happened to Raul? After all Spain has been at peace for years.

    A good read about fulfilling your dreams and having the courage to step out of your comfort zone to achieve them. And celebrating the beautiful bond of family through generations.

  7. A beautiful story about finding one’s direction in life, Under the Spanish Stars is a culturally decadent novel that takes the reader on a journey to the exotic location of Spain. I was immediately immersed from the very first page in Charlotte story, as Sinclair’s main character makes the heartfelt journey from Australia to Spain. When Charlotte’s Grandmother Katarina has a serious health scare, it is up to Charlotte to follow her Grandmother’s wishes and travel to her homeland in Spain. Charlotte is sent on a search to uncover the secrets to a mystifying painting. This trek to her Grandmother’s native home comes at just the right time for Charlotte, as she is feeling great dissatisfaction in her career in Australia. In a world far, far away from Australia, Charlotte finds new life again in the colourful and culturally rich streets of Granada. When Charlotte crosses paths with Mateo, a flamenco guitarist, her eyes are opened to the seductive world of the flamenco. Parallel to Charlotte’s story is that of her Grandmother Katarina. Unlocking the history behind the mysterious painting involves a deep family mystery dating back to the 1940’s. As Charlotte discovers more about her family’s hidden heritage, her passion grows for Mateo, as does her new lease on life.
    I was very pleased when I discovered that I was being provided with an opportunity to read Australian author Alli Sinclair’s second full length novel, Under the Spanish Stars. I voiced my love for Alli’s first book Luna Tango when I read and reviewed it in 2014. Alli has not disappointed in her latest novel, in fact, I do believe she has stepped up a notch. I found myself taken away by Sinclair’s confident and lyrical style of writing. She is a wonderful storyteller, demonstrating that she can bring together a contemporary story of self discovery and combine it with a family saga rich in setting, history, heritage and culture. There is much to love and learn from this book, which is why I highly recommend it. From the main focus on dancing, the intriguing family secrets to unearth, to the added themes of travel, art, music and passionate romance, it truly is one of my top reading picks for 2016.

  8. Under the Spanish Stars, a romantic title and a romantic novel with many twists and turns and hidden secrets. I love how the story takes a parallel look at two generations, Charlotte looking to uncover the secrets of a painting for her grandmother Katarina but that the story also makes Charlotte look into herself, it would seem both characters have much in common that was not first evident. I must admit that to start with I found it hard to understand the actual controversy of what the flamenco truly meant but i am glad I forged on because as the story unfolded I understood that it is the passion that is being acted out and this further heightens the passion of the characters. The mystery and intrigue of times gone by are also part of this passion and deep mystery.
    A superbly written romance that will intrigue and leave you appreciating the passion of people and the sacrifices they make and the reasons why. A lesson for life that you should really follow your passion and not leave things until it is too late.

  9. I really enjoyed this book.
    Loved how we slip between two different generations and as we travel through the book we try to solve the mystery of Charlottes grandmothers painting.
    I loved learning more about Flamenco dancing and remembered how when I was a child my Aunt gave me the most beautiful Spanish doll dressed in red and black. She was a Flamenco dancer and so beautiful.
    I delighted in the history of this wonderful and passion filled dance.
    This book is more then just a story. It takes you along for a wonderful journey and educates you along the way.

  10. I was very surprised that I enjoyed this book as much as I did. I am an avid reader of everything, romance being my least favourite, however, The Author has sucessfully combined romance, history and adventure, end result being a “keep you turning the pages” escapism like nothing I would have imagined. Under the Spanish Stars is a must read for everyone as it rolls all genres into one so there is something for all.

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