Eduardo Mendoza: Riña de gatos (An Englishman in Madrid)

The latest addition to my website is Eduardo Mendoza‘s Riña de gatos (An Englishman in Madrid). Though unusually for Mendoza set in Madrid instead of Barcelona and environs, this book is his usual mockery of all and sundry, particularly the eponymous Englishman. He is Anthony Whitelands, a thirty something English art expert, specialising in Spanish art. The time is early 1936, just prior to the start of the Civil War. The country is in turmoil. He has been given a commission to advise on some paintings for a Spanish duke who wants to sell what he can to finance his escape from Spain, if that proves necessary. Whitelands gets caught up in the standard complicated Mendoza plot, involving the painter Velazquez, the murkier side of both British and Spanish politics, Soviet agents, a whore with a heart of gold and his own passions for alcohol, women and art. He meets various historial figures, including General Franco, and he bumbles around, making one wrong move after another. It is, as always with Mendoza, great fun, with lots of mockery and a complicated funny plot.

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