Discovering Spain

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Although in comparison to the United States, Spain is a small country—it could fit inside Texas—it is a land rich in contrasts and history. The 1992 Summer Olympics and the 500th anniversary of the sailing of Columbus have focused attention on Spain; anyone seeking to learn about the diverse Iberian peninsula will find Casas’ book rewarding.

After a helpful introduction to the country, Casas devotes each of fourteen chapters to a particular region of Spain. Though unified under a single government since 1492, Spain’s provinces retain their individual flavors, not only in their excellent and particular cuisines but also in attitude and outlook. Catalunya is decidedly avant-garde, the birthplace or home of Antonio Gaudi, Salvador Dali, Joan Miro, and Pablo Picasso. Andalusia is a land of alegria (joy); its inhabitants even speak more rapidly than other Spaniards. In Castilla-Leon, on the contrary, even the fiestas can assume a somber air.

Casas points out the highlights of each region, telling the traveler where to stay, shop, and eat, and what to see. She also notes the approximate cost of restaurants and hotels. Since Casas seeks to present the best of Spain, most of the places she recommends are not inexpensive. At the end of the book she provides a brief bibliography and lists six possible itineraries, including a ten-day tour that follows the medieval pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela.

Like the country it describes, DISCOVERING SPAIN is filled with charm, history, and promises of pleasure. Travelers and readers alike can enjoy many happy returns to both.