Lead Review (plus chatting to Marias Dueñas)

  • Book: A Vineyard in Andalusia
  • Location: Cuba (Republic of), Jerez, Mexico City
  • Author: María Dueñas

Review Author: tripfiction



A sweeping historical novel that takes the reader from Mexico to Cuba and on to Andalusia in the 1860s…

The novel is set against the period of the American Civil War which impacted on life and trade in Mexico and Cuba, and against the last years of the slave trade, officially abolished earlier in the century, but still very much part of the fabric of society – sugar plantations in Cuba, for example, relied on slave labour from Africa, but the owners supported the abolition in the main because they feared revolt, not out of principle.

A tumultuous time, then, forms the backdrop to the story of Mauro Larrero who, as the book opens, is still successfully mining silver in Mexico. That is, until he invests in a pump, due to come from America. But the promised investment does not bring the rewards he is promised and he soon on his uppers. Ventures in Cuba beckon. Larrero is, at heart, a chancer, he plays a shrewd game of billiards which take his fortune in quite another direction, to wit to Valencia, where he has acquired a vineyard estate.

Intrigue and family are woven into the narrative as he traverses the Spanish-speaking world, facing new dilemmas and challenges on each leg of his journey.

It is clear that a huge amount of research has gone into the story for both social, locational and political setting. How the old colonial world is starting to make way for fresh ideas. The text is peppered with little nuggets of interesting information – the servants in Valencia were mainly British, and at that time wine made up 20% of Spain’s total exports (increasing so much so that by 2014 Spain was the world’s biggest wine exporter!).

This is a novel that will take you to the Spanish speaking world of the second half of the 19th Century. It plots a convincing story set against a colourful backdrop.

Over on the TripFiction website we chat to the author about her new novel, writing and more…..

On this link you can find our QA with the author

Back to book

Sign up to receive our e-newsletter

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Enter the 2021TripFiction 'Sense of Place' Creative Writing Competition!

A story in which the location plays as important a role as the rest of your words.

2,500 word maximum, 750 word minimum

Judges include Victoria Hislop and Rosanna Ley

First Prize of £1,000 / US$1,350

Prizes total £1,750 / US$2,362 

Winning entry published on TripFiction site and publicised on Social Media

Entries close 6th November 2021