The best books on the resistance during the Spanish Civil War

Who am I?

I am a French writer of Spanish origin. My two grandfathers shared history with Spain’s darkest hours. My maternal grandfather was born in Barcelona and he was a teenager at the time of the war; just like Salvayre’s parents, he had to flee Spain as the bombs were hitting his city. My paternal grandfather, who was in his twenties at the time of the civil war, decided to fight for the “International Brigades” to defend Spain’s freedom. It is to honour their memory and one of the millions of men and women who suffered from those almost four decades of dictatorship that I wrote Blood Song, a historical thriller, the third installment in the Roy and Castell series.


I wrote...

Book cover of Blood Song

What is my book about?

Terrifying, vivid, and recounted at breakneck speed, Blood Song is not only a riveting thriller and an examination of corruption in the fertility industry, but a shocking reminder of the atrocities of Spain's dictatorship, in the latest, stunning instalment in the award-winning Roy & Castells series.

Spain, 1938: The country is wracked by civil war, and as Valencia falls to Franco's brutal dictatorship, Republican Therese witnesses the murders of her family. Captured and sent to the notorious Las Ventas women's prison, Therese gives birth to a daughter who is forcibly taken from her.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Prison of Women: Testimonies of War and Resistance in Spain, 1939-1975

Johana Gustawsson Why did I love this book?

Tomasa Cuevas, who spent herself many years in jail during the Franco dictatorship, collected testimonies of women incarcerated following the Spanish civil war. Mary E. Giles brilliantly translated and edited those testimonies. Prison of women is a powerful book as it is an act of resistance by itself: Tomasa had to cross the country to interview those women at a time when Franco was still ruling and we cannot thank Mary E Giles enough for bringing these testimonies to us. She explains in a heart-warming introduction how she came to translate and edit this book.

By Tomas Cuevas, Mary E. Giles,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Prison of Women as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A translation of women's testimonies about their experiences in the prisons of Spain following the end of the Spanish Civil War in 1939 collected by Tomasa Cuevas, herself a surviving victim of the Francoist prison system.


Book cover of The Sleeping Voice

Johana Gustawsson Why did I love this book?

The Sleeping Voice is the most poignant novel about women in the Spanish civil war you will get to read. Those voices are the ones of the women who fought throughout the dictatorship not to be forgotten as the silent soldiers they were. Those voices tell us that the real heroes are very often anonymous. You won’t be able to part with Hortensia, Elvira and Tomasa, the heroines: I can guarantee that they will all stay with you. I actually chose a quote from that book to open Blood Song: it is about a mother wondering how the sea looks like as her boys are laying in it. 

By Dulce Chacon, Nick Caistor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Sleeping Voice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Dulce Chacon's book has had an immense success in Spain, no doubt because the novelist speaks with a just and powerful voice, and because she has allowed women - the most anonymous, the most suppressed, the most silenced - to speak out" Le Monde

It is 1939. In the Ventas prison in Madrid a group of women have been incarcerated. Their crime is to have supported or fought on the Republican side in Spain's cruel and devastating Civil War. Chief among them are Hortensia, who fought with the militia and is pregnant by her husband Felipe - a man still…


Book cover of Cry, Mother Spain

Johana Gustawsson Why did I love this book?

The former French psychiatrist Lydie Salvayre won the prestigious Goncourt Prize for that brilliant novel about the Spanish civil war. Salvayre’s parents, who were Republicans, had to flee Franco’s regime, and we feel that her writing is sewn with emotion and memories. The two voices we hear echo perfectly that troubling period of Spanish history: the one of Salvayre’s own mother recounting her experiencing the civil war and the one of the French writer Georges Bernanos. A novel not to be missed.

By Lydie Salvayre, Ben Faccini,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cry, Mother Spain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Aged fifteen, as Franco's forces begin their murderous purges and cities across Spain rise up against the old order, Montse has never heard the word fascista before. In any case, the villagers say facha (the ch is a real Spanish ch, by the way, with a real spit).

Montse lives in a small village, high in the hills, where few people can read or write and fewer still ever leave. If everything goes according to her mother's plan, Montse will never leave either. She will become a good, humble maid for the local landowners, muchisimas gracias, with every Sunday off…


Book cover of Homage to Catalonia

Johana Gustawsson Why did I love this book?

To feel the Spanish civil war from the start and from the inside, George Orwell journal is a must read. The writer, whose love for Spain and Catalonia was well-known, fought with the Republicans in 1936 and 1937, at the start of the conflict. He was appalled by the way the British journalists and newspapers were reporting on it, saying that it was so faraway from the truth. His dystopia 1984, has been greatly inspired by the Franco dictatorship that lasted from 1939 to 1975.

By George Orwell,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Homage to Catalonia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Homage to Catalonia remains one of the most famous accounts of the Spanish Civil War. With characteristic scrutiny, Orwell questions the actions and motives of all sides whilst retaining his firm beliefs in human courage and the need for radical social change.

Part of the Macmillan Collector's Library; a series of stunning, clothbound, pocket sized classics with gold foiled edges and ribbon markers. These beautiful books make perfect gifts or a treat for any book lover. This edition is introduced by Helen Graham, a leading historian on the Spanish Civil War.

When George Orwell arrived in Spain in 1936, he…


Book cover of Desde la noche y la niebla

Johana Gustawsson Why did I love this book?

This is the only book in my selection that can just be found in Spanish language. But it’s a fantastic book as Juana Doña wrote a novel about the eighteen years she spent as a political prisoner in the Franco jails. From the night and the fog is a testimony about the resistance that women organised from their prison cells, the fight they led with incredible spirit and resilience despite the inhuman conditions they were living in, mots of them having lost so many loved ones in the war. The horrifying truth shines in a painful but necessary way.

By Juana Doña,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Desde la noche y la niebla as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Rare book


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Book cover of The Twenty: One Woman's Trek Across Corsica on the GR20 Trail

Marianne C. Bohr Author Of The Twenty: One Woman's Trek Across Corsica on the GR20 Trail

New book alert!

Who am I?

I married my high school sweetheart and travel partner, and followed my own advice to do graduate work, and started my career working for the French National Railroad in New York City, mapping itineraries for travelers to Europe. Travel means the world to me and if I don’t have a trip on the horizon, I feel aimless and untethered. I worked in book publishing for 30 years and dropped out of the corporate rat race to take a gap year abroad. I wrote about our “Senior year abroad” in my first book Gap Year Girl. I returned to the US to teach middle school French and organize student trips to France. 

Marianne's book list on by women about outdoor adventure

What is my book about?

Marianne Bohr and her husband, about to turn sixty, are restless for adventure. They decide on an extended, desolate trek across the French island of Corsica — the GR20, Europe’s toughest long-distance footpath — to challenge what it means to grow old. Part travelogue, part buddy story, part memoir, The Twenty is a journey across a rugged island of stunning beauty little known outside Europe.

From a chubby, non-athletic child, Bohr grew into a fit, athletic person with an “I’ll show them” attitude. But hiking GR20 forces her to transform a lifetime of hard-won achievements into acceptance of her body and its limitations.

The difficult journey across a remote island provides the crucible for exploring what it means to be an aging woman in a youth-focused culture, a physically fit person whose limitations are getting the best of her, and the partner of a husband who is growing old with her. More than a hiking tale, this is a moving story infused with humor about hiking, aging, accepting life’s finite journey, and the intimacy of a long-term marriage—set against the breathtaking beauty of Corsica’s rugged countryside.

By Marianne C. Bohr,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Twenty as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Great for fans of: Suzanne Roberts's Almost Somewhere, Juliana Buhring's This Road I Ride.


Marianne Bohr and her husband, about to turn sixty, are restless for adventure. They decide on an extended, desolate trek across the French island of Corsica-the GR20, Europe's toughest long-distance footpath-to challenge what it means to grow old. Part travelogue, part buddy story, part memoir, The Twenty is a journey across a rugged island of stunning beauty little known outside Europe.


From a chubby, non-athletic child, Bohr grew into a fit, athletic person with an "I'll show them" attitude. But hiking The Twenty forces her to…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the Spanish Civil War, Spain, and France?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the Spanish Civil War, Spain, and France.

The Spanish Civil War Explore 48 books about the Spanish Civil War
Spain Explore 186 books about Spain
France Explore 858 books about France