Snippet: Almudena Grandes’ “Dr. García’s patients”

Almudena Grandes, Los pacientes del doctor García [Dr. García’s patients], 2017, 768 p.

Publisher’s summary:

After Franco’s victory the physician Guillermo García Medina still lives in Madrid with a false identity. The documentation that saved him from being executed was a present by his best friend, Manuel Arroyo Benítez, a Republican diplomat whose life he saved in 1937. Guillermo thinks that he will never see him again, but in September 1946 Manuel returns from exile with a secret and dangerous mission. He plans to infiltrate a clandestine organization, the escape network of war criminals and fugitives of the Third Reich, directed from the Argüelles neighborhood by a German and Spanish woman, Nazi and falangista [Wikipedia], called Clara Stauffer. While doctor García lets himself being recruited by Manuel, the name of another Spaniard crosses the two friends’ destiny. Adrián Gallardo Ortega, who had his moment of glory as a professional  boxer before joining the División Azul [“blue division”, Wikipedia] to continue fighting as an SS volunteer and participate in the last defense of Berlin, and who lives rather badly in Germany, ignoring that someone wants to supplant his identity to escape to the Argentina of Perón.

A thriller and a spy novel, Los pacientes del doctor García is maybe Almudena Grandes’ most international and fastest-paced story, her most ambitious narration, in which she connects real and unknown events of World War II and the Franco regime to construct the lives of some characters who not only share Spain’s fate but also Argentine’s.

From a review:

In earlier books by Grandes everything was excessive… The reading of this book has been exciting, and every one of its pages is fully justified. … to draw a true mural of our contemporary history. … It is interesting to see that the marked ideological emphasis of other of her novels … has been substituted by an objectivity where there are no bad ones and good ones, but victims and executioners. … A highly documented novel where history merges with fiction and intensifies it.

J.A. Masoliver Ródenas

The same reviewer tore to pieces Almudena Grandes’ previous novel, so this one might be worth reading. Sounds like a story by Philip Kerr set in Spain.

SOURCE: Tusquets (Planeta, publisher); review in “Cultura/s”, La Vanguardia, Sept. 30, 2017, pp. 6-7 (printed edition)

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