Posted in Historical Fiction

A Devoted Wife Saves Not Only Her Husband But Also Her Country in Gail Meath’s “Agustina de Aragon”

Image courtesy of Netgalley

Disclaimer: I received this ARC courtesy of BookBuzz.net via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review

Plot Summary:

Barcelona, Spain, 1803. Agustina Saragossa, the youngest daughter of a bladesmith, sneaks around the military barracks, yet not to snag a husband as everyone thinks. She loathes the privileged officers and untrained peasants who call themselves soldiers. Her only purpose is to remain abreast of all military secrets as Napoleon Bonaparte swiftly rises through the French ranks.

The chance meeting between Agustina and Spanish Sergeant Juan Roca enrages her while he is instantly struck by the dark-haired beauty with fire in her blood. Relentlessly, he pursues her, despite her fury, and the sparring begins between them.

As the war between the British and French progresses, Spain becomes trapped in the middle until Napoleon deviously orders the invasion of their country. Yet, the French Emperor soon discovers the task is not so easy when Agustina and Juan heroically join the fight for freedom.

Review:

I have to admit that what first drew me to this book was the stunning cover. There was just so much passion between the two central figures that I couldn’t resist finding out who they were supposed to be. Their stance and the vibrance of their costumes reminded me a bit of flamenco, a famous Spanish dance I was lucky enough to see in Seville while visiting the region. After finishing the story I can safely say that the cover “Agustina de Aragon” is a perfect match for its plot. At its heart this is the story of one woman’s passion for her country and her family.

I had never heard of Agustina Saragossa prior to picking up this book, but she was famous enough to catch the attention of Lord Byron, who immortalized her in his “Child Harold’s Pilgrimage”. The Agustina of this novel, much like in real life, is a fiery character. Unlike what is expected of the women of her time she is not content to sit idly at home. Agustina is fiercely interested in the current political state of her country. She loves Spain and would often hang around the army barracks to learn the latest developments both at home and abroad. That is how Agustina ends up meeting the other great love of her life, Juan Roca.

Agustina seems to be a woman who can only love with her whole heart. I really enjoyed seeing passion spark between Juan and Agustina. Throughout the novel the reader sees these two united by a desire to do everything in their power to save their country from Napoleon. At the same time, there are numerous scenes that showcase how far they are willing to go to ensure each others’ safety. As a reader I spent most of the book hoping for a happy ending for the two. That’s why I found the finale perfect, even if it may not be exactly historically accurate.

Though I greatly enjoyed this book, I sometimes found myself wishing there were less detailed discussion of military matters. I understand why they were likely important, but I’m not sure they did much for the plot and were just not to my taste.The pacing also took some getting used to as there was a lot of jumping around in terms of years making it sometimes hard to keep track of the age of the characters and where they were in the story.

Overall, I give this book a 4 out of 5. I greatly enjoyed learning about Agustina’s life and adventures. If you like learning about significant, but less well known historical figures or just want to pick up a good book set in Spain then I recommend giving this book a try.

Quotes I Found Significant:

Her story is so much more than a tale of war, tremendous courage and loss. It is one of the greatest love stories you will ever hear.

Yet that’s when he first saw her eyes ignite, like two blazing torches.

He was the most handsome man she had ever laid eyes upon. He was witty and stubborn and compassionate, too… And it was obvious to her now that he was as loyal to Spain as she was.

Let me know if you think you would enjoy reading this book. Are there other little known heroines that you’ve read about before?