My second novel Connectedness tells the story of an English art student studying for a year in Spain, and how what happens to her influences the rest of her life. In truth the choice of Málaga, in southern Andalucía, was a pragmatic one. We spend part of our year in the countryside west of Málaga, which made research easy and gave me a reason for frequent visits to its museums and beaches. From there it was a short leap to making Pablo Picasso, who was born in the city, an artistic inspiration for Justine Tree.
Justine arrives in the city in 1982 during the transition from dictatorship. General Franco had died seven years earlier and democratic elections were taking place. It was a time of huge change and opportunity, but still of poverty and tradition. The city today is transformed, now an art destination with museums including the Museo Picasso, Museo Casa Natal [Picasso’s Birthplace and gallery], Centre Pompidou, CAC [Centro de Arte Contemporáneo], Museo Ruso, Museo de Málaga, Museo Carmen Thyssen, Museo Jorge Rando, Museo Revello de Toro and the Museo del Vidrio y Cristal. The city has popular walking tours visiting landmarks in Picasso’s life and historic locations such as the Alcazaba fortress and Castle of Gibralfaro. Not to be missed is the Tapas Route around the best bars.
Living an hour’s drive away from the city gave me the opportunity to visit throughout the year, gauging the climate as experienced by Justine. I walked the streets and beaches she walked, I watched the people and ate the food. She arrives in September when temperatures can reach 28°C/82°F. The coldest month is January when it can still be as warm as 17°C/63°F; very different from her childhood in Northern England when in January it is more likely to be 4°C/39°F. Throughout the novel I used my experience of living in Spain to inform Justine’s story and add realistic detail; speaking the language, exploring the food, the customs, the culture. You can read more about my life in Spain at my ‘Notes on a Spanish Valley’ blog.
TO THE OUTSIDE WORLD, ARTIST JUSTINE TREE HAS IT ALL… BUT SHE ALWAYS HAS A SECRET THAT THREATENS TO DESTROY EVERYTHING
Justine’s art sells around the world, but does anyone truly know her? When her mother dies, she returns to her childhood home in Yorkshire where she decides to confront her past. She asks journalist Rose Haldane to find the baby she gave away when she was an art student, but only when Rose starts to ask difficult questions does Justine truly understand what she must face.
Is Justine strong enough to admit the secrets and lies of her past? To speak aloud the deeds she has hidden for 27 years, the real inspiration for her work that sells for millions of pounds. Could the truth trash her artistic reputation? Does Justine care more about her daughter, or her art? And what will she do if her daughter hates her?
This tale of art, adoption, romance and loss moves between now and the Eighties, from London’s art world to the bleak isolated cliffs of East Yorkshire and the hot orange blossom streets of Málaga, Spain.
A family mystery for fans of Maggie O’Farrell, Lucinda Riley, Tracy Rees and Rachel Hore.
About the ‘Identity Detective’ series
Rose Haldane reunites the people lost through adoption. The stories you don’t see on television shows. The difficult cases. The people who cannot be found, who are thought lost forever. Each book in the ‘Identity Detective’ series considers the viewpoint of one person trapped in this horrible dilemma. In the first book of the series, Ignoring Gravity, it is Rose’s experience we follow as an adult discovering she was adopted as a baby. Connectedness is the story of a birth mother and her longing to see her baby again. Sweet Joy, the third novel, will tell the story of a baby abandoned during The Blitz.
Sandra Danby is a proud Yorkshire woman, tennis nut and tea drinker. She believes a walk on the beach will cure most ills. Unlike Rose Haldane, the identity detective in her two novels, Ignoring Gravity and Connectedness, Sandra is not adopted.
‘Connectedness’ at Amazon: https://amzn.to/2q6qy5Z
‘Ignoring Gravity’ at Amazon: http://amzn.to/1oCrxHd
Author website: http://www.sandradanby.com/
Notes on a Spanish Valley blog: https://notesonaspanishvalley.com
Photos [all © Sandra Danby]: