UNDER THE SPANISH STARS by Alli Sinclair- 2017 Australian Author Challenge

Charlotte Kavanagh is a 27 year old single woman working in the family business. Her elderly grandmother, Katarina Sanchez, is lingering in hospital and begs Charlotte to travel to Spain with an unsigned painting of a flamenco dancer which was given to her as a child by her father. Charlotte is happy to investigate this mysterious painting as she has been living a life determined by her family.

She is given a contact by an art academic in Granada where she meets Mateo Vives, a flamenco guitarist with a connection to the local gypsies. Mateo assists Charlotte in her search for the story behind the painting, as well as reigniting her passion on several levels.

The search takes them back to a treacherous period in Spain’s history and is told parallel with Katarina’s life story as a renowned flamenco dancer working under the reign of Franco during the 1940’s and the role she played in the underground movement. She has to flee the country with her lover which is traumatic and leads to her disconnection with her place of birth.


Charlotte and Mateo discover all the family secrets including betrayal and lost love, and Charlotte on her own personal journey discovers self belief, heritage and love.

Did I enjoy this book? There is an awful lot of discussion about the history of flamenco music/dancing and its many forms. To be honest, due to my total lack of expertise in this area, this was pretty much wasted on me. I would have benefited from a CD of flamenco music to help differentiate for me.

I also found the character of a Mateo with his stilted English language skills grating. Yes, I get it; Mateo is Spanish and has not travelled – I just felt it made the reading jagged. I also wonder if the author’s focus on Mateo’s language was so consistent throughout the novel, that she was a perhaps a tad neglectful with characterisation.
Sinclair did such a good job with the Spanglish I can still hear Mateo’s voice in my head.

I have recommended this book to my daughter who is currently attending Spanish classes.

That’s my fleeting moment with Romantic Fiction over and done with, thank goodness!




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