Now available! New paperback edition with map of María's Madrid.
At nine o'clock Franco's troops began to enter; three hours later the whole city of a million people was in their hands. At eleven o'clock the surrender was officially announced from the Madrid wireless. The first section to be taken over was the University City, in the north-west of the capital, where for more than two years Republican and Nationalist troops had faced one another across a narrow no-man's land or burrowed underneath it to blow one another up. A starving Madrid which had resisted for these two years resisted no longer.
Manchester Guardian, 29th March 1939.
Nationalist troops enter Madrid in late March or early April 1939. Ironically, María, the main character in the novel and widow of a member of the Falange killed in the July 1936 uprising, would have been well-cared for by the new regime.
Photo of nationalist troops entering Madrid reproduced from Old Photos Archive Spain on Flickr under Creative Commons licence. Map of Spain reproduced from Life Magazine, 1937. Photo of republican bunker from author's collection.
But what if the republican government had followed the advice of its generals and pulled back its forces in July and August of 1936? What if a line of fortifications (the Sempere Line - named after a republican civil engineer) was built dividing the two forces. What if the republic had held out until American help began to arrive in early 1940? What if someone in the republican high command put their finger on Granada and said, "If we take it, the road to Cadiz is open. If Cadiz falls, we cut off Franco's base in North Africa."? What if one of María's sons got a message to her to meet him in the no-man's land in the City University in Madrid?
A bunker on the republican Sempere Line.