Catalan Review

From "Blue Paradise" to the French Camps: Nancy Johnstone's Narratives of the Catalan Costa Brava at War

Catalan Review (2011), 25, (1), 119–129.

Abstract

This paper seeks to contribute to the evaluation of English eyewitness accounts of life, politics, and society in the Catalonia of the 1930s, with special reference to the tragic outcome of the Spanish Civil War. The article focuses on the writer Nancy Johnstone, who, with the help of her husband, managed a small hotel in Tossa de Mar, at the heart of the Catalan Costa Brava. In Hotel in Spain (1937) and Hotel in Flight (1939), the author documents her experiences in Catalonia from 1934 to 1939. Johnstone's account constitutes the most comprehensive chronicle ever written about the Republic and the Civil War by a full-time British resident. The narrative sequence that begins with the discovery of the blue paradise ends with the tragic flight from a lost paradise in a painful transition that moves from the management of a charming hotel to its conversion into a home for refugee children and taking them to safety in the terrible conditions of the French camps in February 1939.

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Berga, Miquel