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on 12 June 2012
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Duende. Set in the turbulent years leading up to the Spanish Civil War, the story follows the lives of two young men as they grow up and leave home in Barcelona to follow their respective careers in Madrid. As they establish themselves, their characters are interwoven with real personalities of the day along with fictional characters from the worlds of art, philosophy and politics. The story builds to a strong and emotional climax which keeps the reader gripped. Lizzie Eldridge has managed to capture the mood of those difficult years perfectly. Her book is excellently researched and beautifully written and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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on 23 December 2011
Duende is an incredibly ambitious novel for a debut. What could have been a "simple" love story is so much more than that, rewarding the reader with a rollercoaster of a ride through the turbulent 30s of Spain's history, together with an overview of the prevalent artistic and philosophical movements of the day. This is a delightful, stimulating and informative read on every level. Oh, and what an ending.
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on 7 January 2014
Lizzie Eldridge has done something remarkable in this book. Somehow, she has woven together so many different strands, so many remarkable characters (many of them real, all realistic), so many ideas into a powerful, colorful, terrible and poignant story.

At the center of the story is the love between two talented young men, one an artist, the other a philosopher. Together, they explore the world of ideas and thought, seeking to capture the 'duende', the driving force behind art. But at the same time, Spain is being torn apart by divisive political forces that will eventually lead to the violence and horror of the civil war.

These events seemed to me to be not so much a background to the story, as another character in it; one who influences and drives all the other characters along at an increasing rate into ultimate tragedy.

The writing is excellent throughout, well paced and accessible in spite of the depth of ideas that are being considered. I'm no philosopher, and some of the concepts were beyond my grasp, but I was so caught up in the story of Nayo and Jose that I wasn't put off by the intellectual challenges! Instead, I read on, sharing their struggles, right up to the very moving finish.
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on 2 February 2014
Beautifully written account of a love story between a painter and a philosopher, both striving to bring ideas together against the background of Spain being torn apart between the wars.
There is an awful lot going on in this novel as the author explores the philosophy of the early 20th century, fusing it with the art and poetry of the time. This is not difficult to follow, however, as we are guided through it all by an array of believable characters trying to get on with their lives as their homeland goes through a chaotic and violent renewal.
The central romance between Nayo and Jose is intense. They manage to establish an unshakable foundation from which they can create some perspective, enabling themselves and a selection of their friends and family to make sense of the events beyond their control.
The book manages to be life affirming, despite the background of brutality from the 'mass man'.
I found this novel engaging from the first word to the last. It surprised me to read that it is a first novel as it seems so accomplished. I look forward to more from this author.
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on 23 April 2015
Lizzie Eldridge's gripping novel Duende foregrounds the love of two men from Barcelona against the background of the history of Spain from the rule of Don Miguel Primo de Rivera through the Second Republic to the beginning of the Spanish civil war. It's a novel of love, artistic stimulus,philosophical and ideological confrontation of ideas and crude violence. Eldridge displays the breath of her knowledge of history (Spanish history), Spanish rituals, theatre, painting, sociology, philosophy and European literature throughout this work. She provides remarkable insight into intimate human relations. Passion and intellect are woven throughout this remarkable narrative. I simply could not stop reading. A colleague from Spain, specialising in cultural history and literature, read the book, enjoyed it and underlines the accuracy of the historical facts. Compelling
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on 8 January 2013
Exciting, nerve wracking and interesting in equal measures, this compelling love story provides a fascinating and rewarding insight into the writers, philosophers, artists, art and plays that helped to free Spain from the political and religious straightjacket, which ripped the country apart in its not-too-distant past.
Brought into focus by copious research, Lizzie Eldridge manages this ride without any sense that the reader is being lectured - since the book is detailed with such renowned characters, this is no mean feat. Gripped by the greater sensitivities of a poet's stricken homeland, the author paints a complex and moving narrative, propelling the reader toward its heart wrenching climax.
For anyone who struggles with their differences, whether it is sexual or otherwise, this poignant novel provides a strong and helpful key.
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on 11 February 2013
This novel is a wonderful journey through art, philosophy and Spanish history. the author links these beautifully with the relationships between the characters and creates an original and very interesting work.
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on 17 November 2015
Dry. Reads a bit like someone's art dissertation. I'm halfway through and struggling to finish.
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on 11 May 2015
Beautiful !
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