Soaked in sunlight, love and the mysteries surrounding a famous artist The Diver and the Lover is a novel inspired by true events.
It is 1951 and sisters Ginny and Meredith have travelled from England to Spain in search of distraction and respite. The two wars have wreaked loss and deprivation upon the family and the spectre of Meredith’s troubled childhood continues to haunt them. Their journey to the rugged peninsula of Catalonia promises hope and renewal.
While there they discover the artist Salvador Dali is staying in nearby Port Lligat. Meredith is fascinated by modern art and longs to meet the famous surrealist.
Dali is embarking on an ambitious new work, but his headstrong male model has refused to pose. A replacement is found, a young American waiter with whom Ginny has struck up a tentative acquaintance.
The lives of the characters become entangled as family secrets, ego and the dangerous politics of Franco’s Spain threaten to undo the fragile bonds that have been forged.
This gripping novel takes us back in time to Spain in the 50’s, where these sisters fall for the charms of a very different kind of life than they’re used to. Far from the safety and certainties of home. Love blooms in the bohemian atmosphere of wild and rugged Catalonia but little do these two sisters know what fate will have in store for them as their adventure unfolds. I loved the characters of Ginny and Meredith and I found it easy to connect with their sense of liberty as their lives begin to open up as they discover a sunlit world far from the post-war privations they have both suffered. The decisions that they make have enormous ramifications both for themselves and for others and you cannot fail to be moved as you read on and imagine yourself in their situation.
If you follow my blog, you’ll know that I really love a novel where you explore events from real life through a fictional lens. I think that Jeremy Vine allows us to see things from the perspective of both Ginny and Meredith and their characters both spring to life for the reader as you get so involved in their stories. Vine paints a vivid portrait of their experiences living through such a turbulent and unpredictable time in history. I hate including spoilers so all I’ll say is that their idealism in this historical period can put them in situations that we can’t even imagine and there are several tense moments when your heart will definitely be in your mouth.
The way that this epic novel brings this period in history to life and looks at its effects on human lives so vividly to life on the page made me totally lose myself as I luxuriated in this read over last weekend. I just couldn’t tear myself away from being able to ‘live’ for a period in Dali’s Spain and i absolutely loved it. The fact that we have a family connection with Catalonia lent The Diver & the Lover an added poignancy for me and made me realise that even though this is a novel, the stories it tells were very much a reality for thousands of Spanish people at this time and the mixture of artistic aspiration and political turmoil was a potent mixture for me and it really caught my imagination and made me long to return.
If you love a historical read that brings moral dilemmas vividly to life and enjoy being totally immersed in a powerful and vivid narrative then you’ll love The Diver & the Lover It’s a powerful story and I found myself quite emotional as it drew to a close, knowing as I did that even though Ginny and Meredith were fictional characters, they’d really lived for me whilst I was lost in the book. I will definitely look out for more from Vine as the balance of historical detail, wonderful characterisation and emotional punch was a winning combination for me.
I would like to thank Jenny Platt for inviting me to participate in the blog tour – I really enjoy a historical read and this was definitely the right book at the right time for me. I’ll definitely be looking out for the other blog posts to see what my fellow bloggers thought of this emotional and memorable tale.
Buy yourself a copy here and travel to Dali’s Spain yourself this summer
‘As colourful, rich and mesmerising as one of Dali’s paintings, this absorbing, poignant rollercoaster of a read is utterly satisfying and will stay with you long after you’ve put it down.’ PATRICIA SCANLAN
‘a tale of intrigue, love, politics and scandal. Mixing fact and fiction The Diver and The Lover keeps up the pace and excitement to the very end.’ JOAN BAKEWELL
‘This tale intrigued me and captured my imagination in equal measure. I loved being whisked back to the 1950s and felt the heat of the Spanish sun as I fell in love with the sisters’ unique relationship. Be prepared to be taken on a dramatic journey confronting pain, tragedy and passion along the way ‘ SARA COX
‘We’ll never look at one of the world’s best known paintings in the same way again. [Jeremy Vine] has managed to weave truth and fiction together to bring us a most unexpected love story.’ FIONA BRUCE
Writer on The Shelf
Jeremy Vine is one of the UK’s best-known broadcasters.
He presents a weekday show on Radio 2, radio’s most popular news programme.
He also presents Jeremy Vine on Channel 5, a daily current affairs programme, and he fronts Eggheads, one of the longest-running quiz shows in British TV history.
Jeremy is an accomplished journalist and writer and has previously published two works of non-fiction.
He lives in Chiswick with his wife and their two daughters.