I have put on my best clothes to talk to you about a book that is going to enter, directly, into my best reads of 2023. Only the living forgiveof Fernando González Rovira, is a historical novel of raw feelings, set in different moments in time, but focused above all on World War II, which keeps a final treasure between its pages. A bittersweet surprise that gives us clues, however, to the great narrative quality of this author.
We are in Eindhoven next to Jenkins, who has just inheriting the family home from his grandmother, recently deceased. Her relationship with her grandmother was always distant. The moments he spent with her in that same house were quite lonely, since each one went about their business, without much communication, and his mother never ended up having a good relationship with her, so we could say that they were almost strangers. . However, now she not only owns that house but also a diary. A diary written by his grandmother.
The literary device of the diary does not reveal anything new to us within the historical genre because it is usually quite common, but I must warn that this diary is, however, a story within a story that will catch us completely.
First, let me tell you that Fernando González Rovira has a multisensory narrative management with which we will not only visualize each and every one of the scenes, but we will also feel and smell them, as well as pay attention to their sounds and textures. I have been convinced that well could be a movie. I can’t get out of my head the moment when inside my grandmother’s brand new flower shop, the Arbeider Florist, which already contrasts with the smell and color of the flowers (and which made me compare González’s work with that of Máximo orchard in Do not leave Me), pops up a pristine villain of historyan SS general who, with his neat uniform and dirty boots, breaks the entire aesthetic of the scene and creates, for me, the great symbolism of the work: black gloves next to white roses. Disaster and desolation together with hope. But also power next to defeatbecause the streets of Eindhoven were filled with flowers to bury their dead.
The work of Fernando González Rovira takes a historical journey through various moments, not only during World War II, but also, for example, through the Paris of the tropics with the Rubber Rush Manaus or by Porto Velho with him Devil’s Railway. And, of course, occupied Belgium, the fictitious neutrality of Luxembourg, a France in a constant state of violence, impartial Switzerland and our Eindhoven as the scene of something terrible. If it already seems to me that the setting chosen to develop a historical plot of something as fictional as World War II is exotic (Eindhoven, Holland), that it also unites two historical contexts that have nothing to do with each other is very meritorious.
[Por ejemplo, otra novela histórica que me encantó ambientada en la Segunda Guerra Mundial fue El silencio de Berlín de África Vázquez, pero tiene un escenario más habitual: la capital del Reich]
Besides, Only the living forgiven is condemned to mystery. A secret always flies through its pages. Something horrible that has happened and that each chapter only increases the desire to discover it. The astute reader may begin to make conjectures that, possibly, the mystery has to do with the person we have not yet talked about, Daniël, the silent hero of the novel, and the representative of the great love story. What a love story! I have been very excited about it because of its future and because Fernando describes a pure love like no otherfull of kindness and dedication.
So, let’s recap. In Something very serious has happened to the house that Jenkin has inherited., so it is possible to conjecture if it will have to do with him, with Daniël. Could this man be the reason for his grandmother’s distance from him, for her coldness and sadness, and for the ritual that he carried out every day? Ah! mirjam she always placed a glass vase with white gerberas and lilies on a wooden cabinet in the living room. Be careful with this fact because it is the bombshell of history.. Which makes me become a total believer in the literary career of Fernando González Rovira.
Only the living forgive of Fernando González Rovira It is a historical novel full of sensitivity, of scenes that you will feel you are living with all your senses and of tears that fight to come out of your eyes in the face of so much adventure and secret that, finally, turns into a true bittersweet surprise, but magnificent, eternal, immortal. Like the fight of all those who saved lives without wanting to be heroes and of all those others who lost them without wanting to be. Because as they said in Dance me the water, life passes and weighs. But I add: and teach. Like González’s novel, which has been worked on and documented to leave us a moving story of a hard time from which we have a lot to learn.
If you have been wanting to read more historical novels:
🏰 Discover The Secret Legion of the South of Victor Deutsch.
🏰 Or embark on The shipping company by Ángel LG De Frutos.