Entitled ‘A Spanish Tapestry, A journey of legend, history and love’, the book recounts the endearingly frank memoirs of an optimistic twenty year old seeking adventure and love as she explores the beauty, culture and charm of Spain on horseback. It is both a ‘rite of passage’ and unique commentary on the social and political issues of a country under the dictatorship of General Franco.
In 1962, 20 year old Jill receives a small inheritance that enables her to leave her small Notting Hill bedsit and set out on a Spanish adventure of horse riding through Andalusia. But her romantic notions of encountering bandits, gypsies, beautiful dark-haired flamenco dancers and handsome bull fighters, inspired by books about the romance and dangers of Spain, are replaced by the reality of a heavily Catholic macho country that the swinging sixties seem to have by-passed..!
Undeterred by the fact that, as a single women travelling alone, the locals view her with suspicion and think she is a whore, Jill relishes her freedom and immerses herself in exotic Spanish culture; learning the language, trying the food and joining a riding party that weaves its way through the vibrant countryside, studded with white villages. The book tells of Jill’s affair with a married bullfight impresario and how his wife persuaded the local nuns to petition the Bishop and he in turn to pressure the Civil Governor of Malaga to expel her from the country. With two young children, Jill was forced to leave Spain within a week and didn’t return until after Franco’s death.
About the author, Jill Newman Rogers
Jill’s travels took place in the early 1960s when Spain was still in the grip of Franco’s dictatorship and he and the Catholic Church were all powerful. There was no freedom of speech and those who did speak out either lived in exile or risked imprisonment and death.
Before she left Spain, Jill started training to become a bullfighter. As in other male dominate occupations there was, and still is, a lot of sexist resistance to women participating in the art. Twin this with the fact that Jill is English, not Spanish, and it was a very courageous thing for her to attempt. However it is also a costly undertaking, requiring at least four horses for every fight, and it was the financial commitment that eventually prevented her from continuing.
Jill now lives permanently in Andalusia where she helps to run a charity for abandoned and ill-treated horses. Due to the recession, more horses are being abandoned and less money is being donated, the biggest donors being the ex-pat English community.
A Spanish Legend was published on 5 September 2013 by Acorn Independent Press Ltd. Cost: paperback, £8.99 (approx €10.50) and E-book, £3.99 (approx €4.75). For more information, to read an extract and to buy the book, click here.