Trini Amador has chosen to memorialize his Basque grandparents by this fictionalized but mostly biographical tale of their lives. Titled Gracianna, it is nonetheless a cultural snapshot of the Basque people and particularly those in the Pyrenees. I have a very old ancestral tie to the Pyrenees region , although my family became political Aquitanians and Anglo Norman , so I very much appreciated this glimpse.
As a Cultural Anthropologist by education, I took the opportunity to speculate on Gracianna's personality as a vestige of an isolated ethnic group. The Basque language has stayed very much the same since the Stone Age and has very little in common with the Indo European and Romance languages which surround it.
Gracianna was fiercely protective of family and extremely self reliant and almost excluded others into her inner circle. Fortunately for their descendants, Juan Lasaga, her adolescent sweetheart and husband, was less so. Juan followed Gracianna to Paris and entwined his life, lovingly about hers.
Ultimately he saved her life, literally as well as figuratively with his physical presence and tenacity.
Was Gracianna's family of origin different in some way than Juan's or were they just individual personality traits?
The author stated that his grandparents were " like two strong tower foundations linked but a bridge..unable to really be one", or was that true? Amador also tells a story of a time in their later years ,when they reverted to their youth, sleeping outdoors together under an oak tree overlooking their sheep ranch.
Their wartime Paris experience involved the Nazi occupation of Paris and the French Resistance Movement. Gracianna's sister Constance's incarceration in a concentration camp near Auschwitz was described with stark and chilling language, and her almost inexplicable release was startling. This was a large part of the author's tale and the part I enjoyed the least.
I am glad that Amador exhumed a childhood memory to construct this tale and that I was able to review it for my Blog. It definitely was thought provoking and provided many questions to research, which is definitely why I read books!
About the AuthorTrini Amador vividly remembers the day he found a loaded German Luger tucked away in a nightstand while wandering through his great-grandmother’s home in Southern California. He was only four years old at the time, but the memory remained and he knew he had to explore the story behind the gun. This experience sparked a journey towards Gracianna, Amador’s debut novel, inspired by true events and weaving reality with imagination. It’s a tale drawing from real-life family experiences.