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Maria Exposito Glass

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Sun and Shade
by Maria Exposito Glass   

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Historical Fiction

Publisher:  PublishAmerica ISBN-10:  1588513238 Type: 


Copyright:  Jun 1 2001

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Set in the south of Spain during the early 20th century, Sun and Shade follows one man's struggles through the rise of Fascism, the terrors of the Spanish Civil War, and Franco's dictatorship. A brutal tale about one family's secrets, it is ultimately a story about forgiveness and redemption when the sins of one generation blossom into powerful lessons for the next.

After their grandmother's death, eleven years old Paco and his sister, Elvira, are left with no other relative than their uncle, Pedro, a cynical and unattached man, who exerts a painful fascination on the boy. Pedro at first rejects the children, then takes them in after Elvira's brutal rape. At eighteen, Paco is sent to fight in Morocco. The violence he witnesses prompts him, upon his return, to write a book denouncing Spain's imperialism. He also falls in love with Cecilia, his best friend Fernando's fiancée. Shunned, Fernando leaves town to return, years later, wearing the uniform of the new Fascist party, the Phalanx. When the Spanish Civil War erupts, Paco, now married to Cecilia, is arrested in front of his wife and children. The insurgent army also burns all his writings. Meanwhile, Pedro receives a near-fatal wound that will leave him a changed man. In desperation, Cecilia asks for Fernando's help in rescuing her husband from the firing squad. Confronted with Paco's ingratitude, Fernando hints to the price Cecilia had to pay. Blind with jealousy, Paco joins the guerilla in the hills.
During his nephew's absence, Pedro becomes a surrogate father for the children and a source of support for Cecilia. After two years of incarceration, Paco returns a broken man. His uncle's powerful presence, the lack of hope, his inability to find a decent job because of his past, and his jealousy will slowly turn him into an alcoholic, alienated from his own children. Only when his eleven years old son, Paquito, receives a severe beating for stealing figs, does Paco's will return. In a fit of rage, he commits two violent murders for which Pedro willingfully takes the blame. This will set Paco further apart from Paquito, who now regards Pedro as his true father. Tired of the misery, the boy will leave at fifteen. In a violent rite of passage, he will realize, too late for reconciliation, the profound impact that the war has had on his father's dreams. Drawing strength from that knowledge, he will emerge a man, strong and proud in spite of the war, the poverty and the hunger.
"Hypnotized, Paco watched the blackened pieces of his past dance like fireflies before his eyes. The cabo let the burning paper go, then he dropped another page to revive the strength of the dying flame. Paco remembered the fire in Seville that had ruined his first hopes years ago when he still had a future. Brought to tears, he attempted to bring back to his mind full sentences, single words he had once written, even ideas he had thought, but his efforts were futile. Page after page, the merciless fire swallowed his past, his world, the person he thought he was."

"Killing had never come easy, not in Morocco, not in the sierra, but this time it was different. Silva was not only the man who had beaten up Paquito; he was the enemy, the foul-smelling gangrene that forbade the country's wounds to heal. He was the rich and the powerful's servile dog, the mercenary and barbaric justice of those who had appropriated the earth for their own greed."

Professional Reviews

Between The Lines
By Derval C. Brown for The Front Porch, Fredericksburg, VA I have read volumes about the Spanish Civil War, fiction and non-fiction, including Jose Gironellas' exhaustive and exhausting trilogy, but I learned more and identified more with this short novel than with all the others put together. By choosing to tell the story of a family living and dying in a country that brought fratricide to new levels in the 1930's, as they took part in a war that has been called the testing ground for World War II, and by letting the characters tell their stories, the author has stepped back from sermonizing and has let history speak for itself. . . Maria Exposito Glass . . . tells a good story -I cared about what was happening and I wanted to get to know the characters better as I read- and she told it in a way that appeals to me, with lots of metaphor, parable, local color, even regionalisms that help define actions and intent. From time to time, I noticed expressions that were not quite colloquial English. They only added to the enjoyment. . . In addition to a good tale, this book can serve us as a way of looking at history. Paco was not all right and he was not all wrong; neither were the Nationalists and neither was anyone else. Usually, the saying goes, history is written by the winners, but in a sense there were no winners in Spain, only losers with different levels of bereavement. . . Ms. Glass has plumbed her family history and given us a bridge between the past and the present and if we can learn from the lessons that events teach, maybe we will be wiser in the future.

Local Teacher Pens Historical Novel
By Dan Dervin, for The Free Lance Star, January 20, 2002. It's a marvelous, sprawling extravaganza that begins as domestic intrigue, turns into political melodrama, rises to classical tragedy, then transcends all the bloodshed, violations and dashed hopes to peer optimistically into the future. . . Pedro gallops through these adventures as the larger-than-life embodiment of classic Spanish codes of honor and revenge, undermined by his own carousing and womanizing habits. He is Old Spain charging like a reckless bull into the New Man of Franco's state power and being cruelly gored. Paco's family is humanity caught between these jaws, and his defeat, along with Cecilia's quietly enduring heroism, is rendered with searing pathos. As a woman, she too occupies the intoxicating space of two opposing value systems that interact but never blend. She holds her own: at times as a woman, at times as a proud Spaniard identified with the ancient male ethos. Paquito, the proud "torero" facing down the bull in the end, is her true son, perhaps more so than Paco's. He embodies a version of those opposites which may or may not blend in him. Given today's writer's daunting task to recapture a vivid but rapidly receding past, the book is a remarkable achievement.

Amazing Authors Showcase
By Kurt Kitasaki, 3/16/02. Sun & Shade, a novel that captures all the emotions and conflicts of the Spanish Civil War, is a must read for anyone who has an appetite for dramatic history.

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Reader Reviews for "Sun and Shade"

Reviewed by Amy 4/2/2003
I had the pleasure to hear Mrs. Exposito Glass read during the Virginia Book Festival in Charlottesville. Her humanity and insight into the real face of war moved the audience. Sun and Shade is one of the most humane depiction of what war can do to man. I highly recommend it.
Reviewed by Lynn Louderback 3/22/2002
Mrs. Glass is my English teacher, and besides being a wonderful author, she is a very gifted and talented teacher. Her kids love her!
Reviewed by courtney 2/14/2002
This has got to be the best book I have ever read. While I was reading it, I could not put it down. It is definitely a book I could read over and over again and still enjoy immensely.
Reviewed by Linda Schlabach 12/9/2001
I'm reading Sun and Shade for the 3rd or 4th time and am amazed at the emotion I still feel. I understand the time period better each time and what people in any war go through. I love the characters--you can tell the author knows the setting and the characters personally.

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