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“Miss Spain in Exile”
Isa Reyes’ Escape from the Spanish Civil War
Dorian L. (Dusty) Nicol is a geologist, who lives in California when he is not in far-off corners of the world exploring for gold and other metals. Dusty spent much of his childhood and working life in Spain and has long been fascinated by the events of the Spanish Civil War, the defining impact that these events had on his family, and on their relationship to the broader history of Europe in the 20th century. This is his first book.
On the day in 1936 that Franco invaded Spain, a fifteen-year-old girl from Madrid was on vacation in the Sierra de Gredos, a mountain range popular for hikers. Isa (Conchita) Reyes fled Spain for Paris with her mother and sister, taking only what they could carry in their suitcases. Her father stayed behind to fight on the Loyalist side. It was not long before the last piece of jewelry had been sold, and ways had to be found to make a living.
Working as a model, she was “discovered” and given the stage name ‘Isa’. A renowned Flamenco dancer, she performed in Paris and in the capitals and resorts of Europe. In 1938 she was crowned “Miss Spain in Exile”. In Venice, she was courted by Count Ciano, Mussolini’s son-in-law, and used an imaginative lie to avoid his affections. In Berlin, in 1939, she performed (unwillingly) at Hitler’s fiftieth birthday celebrations organized by Joseph Goebbels. Later in the year, whilst on a dancing tour in Athens, she met the man she would marry – my father. Together, they escaped Europe for the New World.
This is Isa’s story, from the nightclubs and ateliers of Paris, to the performance halls of Europe, to the harrowing inspections by the Gestapo while transiting Germany. This is a story of a young girl who had to grow up quickly when war turned her world upside down. Isa fulfilled her dream of becoming a dancer, albeit in ways she could not have imagined when growing up. Her story is told against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War and Europe's inexorable march to conflict. Isa never lost her optimism or her sense of humor. Her dream came true, but the circumstances were tragic and tumultuous.
Published in association with the Cañada Blanch Centre for Contemporary Spanish Studies and the International Brigade Memorial Trust
|Paperback Price:||£24.95 / $34.95|
|Release Date:||February 2021|
|Page Extent / Format:||240 pp. 229 x 152 mm|
Prologue by Sir Paul Preston CBE
Chapter 1 A Village in the High Sierra
Chapter 2 The Burning Fields
Chapter 3 The Airbase at Sariñena
Chapter 4 Crossing the Pyrenees and Becoming Isa
Chapter 5 Three Painters
Chapter 6 The Duchess' Palace
Chapter 7 On the French Riviera
Chapter 8 In Poland
Chapter 9 Miss Spain
Chapter 10 Sharing a Hotel with the Russians
Chapter 11 The Miss Europe Contest
Chapter 12 A Christmas Holiday
Chapter 13 Father is Alive!
Chapter 14 Two Weeks in Venice
Chapter 15 Berlin
Chapter 16 A Trip to Greece
Chapter 17 The New World
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