Over the course of centuries, numerous wars have been waged in the name of religion. In the late sixteenth century, England and Spain, the reigning world superpowers, were locked in a battle over their God. Queen Elizabeth’s ascension to the throne brought on the beginning of Protestant rule in Great Britain, and it was the order of the execution of her Catholic cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots, that escalated the ire of Catholic Spain toward England.
This war and the Spanish army’s presence in France is the setting of Annie Kaye’s Beyond the Spanish Road, the story of Javier, a young Spanish soldier bound by duty to serve his country; and Gaspard, a French merchant and heir to his family’s textile business, who meet by chance and fall in love with each other in spite of the insurmountable odds against them.
And it’s those impossible circumstances that lend the bittersweet note to this love-at-first-sight story. Javier and Gaspard are traveling different paths in life, and it’s those differences that ultimately doom their instant and incendiary love affair. For Javier, this is the coming-of-age story of an eighteen-year-old boy who’d sworn celibacy as a means of appeasing the conflict between the teaching of his religion and his desire for men. But even the best intended plans cannot stand in the face of love and need, and though Javier doesn’t know what the war holds in store for him, he gives himself, body and soul, to Gaspard. He gives all of himself, yet it’s still not enough to transcend his loyalty and obligation to his county.
Separated by decades in which the design of their lives is drawn with very different brushstrokes, that time and distance does nothing to diminish their passion for each other. Older, wiser, and finally free to give in to their love, the end gives way to the beginning of a new chapter in their lives.
I enjoyed this story and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it, though with a few provisions. Believing in the power of instantaneous, everlasting, and inexplicable connection with another soul is a must, because there’s not a great deal of time spent in the exposition of Javier and Gaspard’s relationship.
The narrative is also quite florid (think Shakespeare without the need for translations), so if prose that leans a bit toward the purple isn’t something you enjoy, consider this before buying, though I personally felt it fit the time period well, or at least what I’d imagine would fit.
Finally, if a tidy happy ending is a must, know that Beyond the Spanish Road ends merely with a promise rather than a neat resolution.
If these things aren’t an issue, then I’d recommend giving this story a try.
Buy Beyond the Spanish Road HERE.