The Golden Spaniard - Review by Stevie P

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Stevie P
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The Golden Spaniard - Review by Stevie P

Postby Stevie P » Fri 16 Nov, 2007 18:31:47

My second reading of 'The Golden Spaniard' proved just as enjoyable as the first even though I knew some of the twists that were to come. My favourite DW's books have always been the black magic novels but I certainly think that this is amongst his best. In fact DW himself believed it to be one of the best books he'd ever written. He unashamedly admits that it was a plagiarism of Alexandre Dumas's 'Twenty years after' in which the Four 'original musketeers' take opposite sides for political reasons; d'Artagnan and Porthos siding with the court; Athos and Aramis with the Frondeurs.
In the Golden Spaniard the 'modern musketeers', Duke de Richleau and Richard Eaton side with Franco, Simon Aron and Rex Van Ryn with the Socialist-Marxists. It covered all the opening phases of the Spanish Civil War which was 1936.

The Golden Spaniard is actually a young lady, La Espanola Dorada Lucretia-Jose de Cordoba y Coralles or Lucretia for short!!! She heavily supports the Franco nationalists and an is an active operator within their war effort. Not just a pretty face.
The title 'Golden' is due to the Golden colour of her hair.
The second aspect of the 'Golden' title is that she is attempting to get her deceased fathers very good friend (The Duke) to take over control of the 82 million Peseta's worth of gold bullion weighing 10 tons so that it doesn't fall into the hands of the Extremists (as she calls them).
As mentioned above the four friends have their own reasons for being on opposite sides of the Spanish conflict. Simon sides with the Communist's (Page 24) to which the Duke believes will bring disorder, anarchy and chaos. Simon responds with, "If the Fascists come out on top it'ud be every bit as bad" (Page 185).

The story itself really brings to life what it must be like to try to survive when law and order has virtually disappeared; when it is dangerous just to walk out on the streets.
The scenario reminded me very much of the 'Black August setting' - the law of the jungle almost; Kill or be killed.
The whole setting of the internal battles and strife are very effective and atmospheric. You feel as though you are playing a living part in these stark settings.

When Simon gets into a particularly difficult spot and is about to be roasted alive on the site of a burning church he is saved in quite a remarkable way. I won't spoil it for those of you who haven't read the book.

I won't go into great detail on the plot of the book as Diamondhairdan has already provided a very precise summary in his review.

There are however various twists and turns, plots and sub plots and several surprises

The following points from the book may be of interest;


Page 9 - A clue is given in this book as to the age of the Duke. On the first page of the first chapter (Arrow paperback) the Duke states, "I am old enough to be your (The Golden Spaniards) grandfather, almost"
Based on the fact that this story is being based in 1936 - (The start of the Spanish Civil War) together with the fact that on page 10 the Duke believes Lucretia to be perhaps 25.
For her to have been his granddaughter we must add at least two lots of 16 years on to her age of 25 which would make the Duke 57 in 1936 which would make his year of birth 1879. I know this isn't precise as I'm not taking into account two, nine - month pregnancies on top of the 32 years but the Duke did say "Almost", so it is not too far out.

Page10 - In this book Lucretia has fine grey eyes (as well as the Duke)

Page 17 - The Duke recounts that Tanith (Rex's wife) of The Devil Rides Out fame died three years ago since giving birth to her 1st child, little Robin. (This story takes place in mid 1936 which would make it mid 1933 when Tanith is supposed to have died).
TDRO was written in December 1933. There's something wrong with the maths!!!

Page 148 & 149 Info dump on Spanish politics

Pages 150 & Chapter 25 Mentions 'The Scarlet Pimpernel'. - One of DW's favourites.

Page 185 - The Duke is talking to Simon regarding the attacks taking place in Pre war Germany, "The German Jew baiting is horrible, I know, but it isn't wholesale murder. " Quite ironic - this book was written in 1938!!

Page 230 - Another info dump. The subject this time is about the effect of small countries wanting independence when unity as a group is quite often a safer bet. (Very topical in the UK at the moment with talks of Scotland splitting from the rest of the UK).

Page 242 A plug for Marcel Proust and his book A la Recherché du Temps perdu. Another of DW's admired writers.

Pages 303 - 306 An interesting monologue on Religion, Life after death and Reincarnation. You certainly have to admire DW's faith.

Page 322 - Rex had just bought a small fast plane.

Page 332 - An airman had borrowed Rex's new plane and not returned it, but Rex, was not seriously worried by the loss of his plane. Does anything worry him!!!!

Page 331 - "You and some other Ginks" There's a word you don't hear very often now, in this context.

Page 367 - Chapter 31 is called Plot and Counterplot. This presumably is where the name came from for the 1959 Gregory Sallust compilation volume.

Page 373 and 378 - Plugs for Peter Cheney (another favourite author) -
. ..he (Rex)did not move because he was immersed in a Peter Cheyney thriller.
.. he (Rex)laid down the Peter Cheyney with considerable reluctance
As soon as he had gone Rex grabbed the Peter Cheyney.
He was enthralled by the seductive powers of Mr Cheyney's 'dames'.

I was wondering if Peter Cheyney, James Hilton, Marcel Proust & DW's other 'Plug receivers' ever did the same for him in their books?

and finally as the newspaper report below quite accurately describes.

"Never falters in pace or fertility of invention?.peculiarly well worth reading".
The Times
Last edited by Stevie P on Fri 16 Oct, 2009 09:13:32, edited 2 times in total.

Jim
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Postby Jim » Sun 18 Nov, 2007 05:22:57

<< I was wondering if Peter Cheyney, James Hilton, Marcel Proust & DW’s other ‘Plug receivers’ ever did the same for him in their books? >>

I don't know about the others, but Proust died in 1922, making it difficult for him to reciprocate. <g>

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Postby Stevie P » Sun 18 Nov, 2007 10:41:13

Good point Jim. Just testing!!!!!

Alan
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Postby Alan » Wed 21 Nov, 2007 09:57:00

>TDRO was written in December 1933. ThereÂ’s something wrong with the maths!!!

Not nesser-celery. There is no rule that the action of a story has to take place in the year it was actually written. The events described in TDRO might have happened in, say, 1930.

Incidentally, I was a little saddened to read of Tanith's death in GS - it rather wipes out the happy resolution of TDRO when the reader is given to understand that Tanith is able to circumvent her fate, as decreed by her short life-line. Still, she had already died once and come back, I guess that should have been enough for the poor girl.

I rather think that DW was taking a leaf out of the book of another great British adventure-writer, Dornford Yates, who had a propensity for having his characters marry in fairytale endings, only for us to read in the next book that the former romantic interest had died in a "convenient" plane crash or something, leaving the character available for another romantic quest!

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Postby Stevie P » Fri 23 Nov, 2007 09:04:03

>>>>>>>>>There is no rule that the action of a story has to take place in the year it was actually written. The events described in TDRO might have happened in, say, 1930. <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

I agree with the logic, however DW did base this book in 1934 (or possibly later although unlikely)

Chapter 14 in 'The Devil Rides Out' - "The Duke de Richleau takes the field" Page 76 (Arrow Paperback)
states,

"At 7.38. Scotland Yard was issuing the following communique by
wireless: "All stations. Stolen. A blue touring Rolls, 1934 model. Number
OA1217. Owner Duke de Richleau......"

I rest my case your honour!!!

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Postby Alan » Sun 25 Nov, 2007 03:55:22

I stand correct, and retire gracefully from the field with a bow.

Incidentally, does this mean the Duke's car was brand new? I always saw it as a pretty old classic model, even at the time the tale took place... for example, you have to get out to light the headlights (as the Duke and Rex did when breaking up the sabbat)... hardly state of the art for a luxury carriage in the 1930s.

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Postby Jim » Sun 25 Nov, 2007 06:02:06

The Duke must own at least two cars--I seem to recall a Hispano-Suiza, which is probably the "old classic" that Alan remembers. The Rolls is loaned to Rex while de Richleau is out pursuing other inquiries. (If it's like the States, by the way, any car sold after mid-summer is considered the next year's model...)

Does it strike anyone else funny that the police broadcast cites the owner of the stolen car by his title, rather than his name?

K R Cope

Postby K R Cope » Mon 26 Nov, 2007 23:11:08

According to Wilipedia, Hispano-Suiza made very exotic and luxurious cars in the 1920's (up to 1936) which were regarded as the equivalent of Rolls, so I can understand one appealing to the Duc's tastes.
Looking at the registration number of the Rolls, "OA" is a Birmingham registration and was (if I'm reading my "car numbers" book correctly) issued in 1913, so there's probably some author's licence going on there! (Aren't I sad, owning a car numbers book! :roll: )
As regards the Police referring to the owner of the car by his title, I don't actually find that particularly strange.... we have media reference to, for example, the "Duke of Edinburgh" and the "Duke of Devonshire" at the present time, rather than their actual names?

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Postby Jim » Tue 27 Nov, 2007 02:42:21

K R Cope wrote:As regards the Police referring to the owner of the car by his title, I don't actually find that particularly strange.... we have media reference to, for example, the "Duke of Edinburgh" and the "Duke of Devonshire" at the present time, rather than their actual names?


Of course, but what name is on their vehicle registration? <g>

K R Cope

Postby K R Cope » Tue 27 Nov, 2007 08:18:25

Jim wrote:
K R Cope wrote:As regards the Police referring to the owner of the car by his title, I don't actually find that particularly strange.... we have media reference to, for example, the "Duke of Edinburgh" and the "Duke of Devonshire" at the present time, rather than their actual names?


Of course, but what name is on their vehicle registration? <g>


Fair point, Jim.
.
You've got me looking in the relevant chapter of my copy of TDRO...not read it for quite some years, and you've started me wanting to revisit it....

"De Richleau was speaking to the Assistant Commissioner at the Metropolitan Police, a personal friend of his. 'It's not the car that matters,' he said....."
Worth making a note of that, who to phone if "one of my cars" ever goes missing ;-)

I wasn't really thinking when I made my own post above about an "OA" Birmingham registration (long day at work...). Presumably an old deleted registration number could have been reused at that time, and there is no reason why the Duc would not have bought a car from, or registered by the dealer, in Birmingham. I guess that I just visualised him at the posh Mayfair showroom of the best Rolls dealers....

I wonder if DW had actually seen a blue Rolls with that number, and even if it might still exist now!
Last edited by K R Cope on Tue 27 Nov, 2007 23:28:22, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby Stevie P » Tue 27 Nov, 2007 18:34:33

Jim wrote: Does it strike anyone else funny that the police broadcast cites the owner of the stolen car by his title, rather than his name?


I was just thinking that the police would have been as much in the dark as we are. They probably don't know his real name!!!!
He probably hasn't got one :lol:

K R Cope

Postby K R Cope » Tue 27 Nov, 2007 18:55:29

Stevie P wrote:
Jim wrote: Does it strike anyone else funny that the police broadcast cites the owner of the stolen car by his title, rather than his name?


I was just thinking that the police would have been as much in the dark as we are. They probably don't know his real name!!!!
He probably hasn't got one :lol:


I'm sure that I can remember the Duc's real name being mentioned in one of the novels in relation to his early life? No idea which one at the moment, though.
(and would a junior police officer dared to have wasted time checking the name of the registered owner of the car, if his instructions were coming from the Assistant Commissioner!) ;-)
Last edited by K R Cope on Tue 27 Nov, 2007 23:30:14, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Steve Whatley » Tue 27 Nov, 2007 21:57:18

[Alan: I rather think that DW was taking a leaf out of the book of another great British adventure-writer, Dornford Yates, who had a propensity for having his characters marry in fairytale endings, only for us to read in the next book that the former romantic interest had died in a "convenient" plane crash or something, leaving the character available for another romantic quest!]

Alan, you may well be right! DW did mention Dornford Yates as one of the authors whose novels he'd enjoyed, and I'm sure he tried to emulate the non-stop excitement of Yates' Chandos (and other) stories. There were two Dornfords in the Blackwell's Catalogue when DW's library was dispersed after his death, one of them bearing the rare DY signature.

Does this mean I've found a fellow Dornford Yates enthusiast?

Regards, Steve

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Postby Hoyo de Monterrey » Sat 8 Dec, 2007 01:10:32

Steve -
Personally, I'm quite keen on some of Dornford Yates's writing - "Blind Corner", for example, is an absolute classic - but I rather lose the will to live when ploughing though some of the "Berry" books. Probably fine in their day, but nowadays horrendously dated in a way DW's novels never are - the difference between a good writer and a great writer.

And for Stevie P - as I mentioned in another thread, I worked out to my own satisfaction that the Duke was born in 1875, so I think between us we have narrowed it down quite well.

The Golden Spaniard is my second favourite DW novel, only beaten by The Devil Rides Out. My original copy (an Arrow paperback - with truly embarrassing cover artwork!) literally fell to bits through repeated reading.
"Here's to crime"

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Postby Stevie P » Sat 8 Dec, 2007 10:37:45

Hoyo,
Thanks for the confirmation on the Dukes year of birth. Maybe my maths aren't quite as bad as I thought. Perhaps we might be able to gather a more precise date with further reading of the Duke de Richleau books.

Another thing that came out of this string of notes was something that K.R.Cope said,
"I'm sure that I can remember the Duc's real name being mentioned in one of the novels in relation to his early life? No idea which one at the moment, though." If anyone can shed any light on this I'd be grateful to know.
I haven't read all the DdR books....yet!!

Finally, Charles Beck mentioned to me the other day that I must be very pleased with the volume of response we've had on this Library topic - which I am. However, the responses relate to 'The Devil Rides Out' rather than 'The Golden Spaniard'. It strikes me that readers do get more animated about the content of TDRO than anything else. Why?

Is it because more people have read TDRO than the The Golden Spaniard or DW's other novels???


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