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Riña de gatos. Madrid 1936

3.46  ·  Rating details ·  2,245 ratings  ·  189 reviews
Un inglés llamado Anthony Whitelands llega a bordo de un tren al Madrid convulso de la primavera de 1936. Deberá autenticar un cuadro desconocido, perteneciente a un amigo de José Antonio Primo de Rivera, cuyo valor económico puede resultar determinante para favorecer un cambio político crucial en la historia de España. Turbulentos amores con mujeres de distintas clases so ...more
Hardcover, Autores Españoles e Iberoamericanos, 427 pages
Published November 2010 by Planeta
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Average rating 3.46  · 
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 ·  2,245 ratings  ·  189 reviews

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Jim Fonseca
Jul 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A novel about the political chaos in Spain in 1936 leading up to the Spanish Civil War. An Englishman who is an art professor is hired to go to Spain to evaluate some paintings. While he is told that the purpose of the valuation is for the owner to get money to flee the country, it may actually be to support Spain’s radicals seeking to overthrow the government.


The story turns into a kind of spy thriller as the Englishman is followed by agents of the Spanish government and the British consulate
This was one of those novels that I really wanted to like and that I should have enjoyed tremendously, yet, I struggled with it.

Hear me out: I have a thing (a bit of an obsession) with everything and anything Spanish and/or Latin American. I love Madrid and I am terribly fond of museums, have spent quite a few hours in the Prado museum and am familiar with Diego Velasquez's works. All these elements were present and had centre stage in this novel.

I should have been very fond of our
Ian Brydon
I bought this novel as a bit of a stab in the dark - I found myself with nothing else to read on a rainy day in Sheffield (Yes! It does rain in Sheffield!), and this was the only book that appealed from the rather meagre selection at W H Smith's on the Station.

At first I thought I was encountering that occasional serendipity we all occasionally experience when we pick up a book by chance and it turns out to be excellent. The first hundred pages or so were enthralling (they even made
Set in Madrid in 1936, just before the Spanish Civil War, the story follows the exploits of young art expert Anthony, who having travelled to Spain to appraise an art collection finds himself increasingly caught up in the intrigues of various factions vying for power.
This was an excellent read, which perfectly captures the atmosphere of violence and fear in Spain at that time, as it spiralled towards war.
There are also some fascinating facts about art and history, which gives this bo
Jun 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A joy of a book. What a masterful writer who conveys the complex politics in a comedy of manners.

Aristocrats, spies and Velasquez makes quite a cocktail with the sex thrown in. But under the clever comedy you learn about the run up to the war with a view from the Nationalist side that we seldom get outside Spain.

You'll learn art, politics - even what Spain thinks of the British - and all in language that leaps off the page.

I read it in a day. Seldom get books like this a
Another book that starts out really strong then totally falls apart into a total mess by the end.

The book is kind of like "The DaVinci Code," except set right before the Spanish Civil War. The setting and the historical characters (Franco even makes an appearance!) are by far the best parts. Lame treatment of the female characters, awkward resolution of the many plots by the end = not so great. The main character is also incredibly passive -- the whole book is basically different characters com
Mar 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent read! Good suspense revolving around the beginning of Spanish civil war!
Michelle Only Wants to Read
3-3.5 Stars

I'm convinced this is an excellent book that got lost in poor translation. I happen to speak Spanish, and I was able to correct mentally some of the poorly translated parts. Many of the colloquial--I believe meant to be funny and show the charming Spanish culture--language and folklore translated awkwardly, distracting the reader.

The first part of the book was a bit too slow for my liking. I believe some of the passages about Velasquez and art could have been shorter. It
Sep 28, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Badly written, poorly translated, cardboard characters, absurd plot, clichéd dialogue – can’t think of anything positive to say about what could have been an interesting insight into Spain on the verge of the Civil War. A rather inept stereotypical Englishman, an art historian, arrives in Madrid to value a painting. Things go badly for him. I didn’t care.
Oct 07, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: duds
Although the picture of Madrid on the eve of civil war is well drawn, I found all the characters ludicrous and unreal and the convoluted plot is a bit tedious.
Jan 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spanish
Very well written with well developed characters. depicts well the period and the pre war European political intricacies.
I was encouraged to read this book as Mendoza's name popped up as giving a talk at the London Review of Books shop - and I'd never heard of him before. This novel, set in the Spanish Civil War, is intriguing. In some ways it is quite simplistic, with its 'hero' Anthony Whitelands, an English art historian, doing things that even the most naive tourist would avoid (e.g. being taken to a brothel by a near-stranger, and leaving the latter in charge of his wallet and passport while he goes inside). ...more
Len Williamson
May 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An enjoyable read and a good story. I agree with other reviewers that the translation must lose something as in places it doesn't quite work. The book taught me more about the transitions Spain has gone through and their ramifications in today's world. The tensions of wealth/poverty/capitalism/communism/socialism/corruption and nationalism are all brewing in this tale. I know its obvious in a way but as I read the book it occurred to me that there are no perfect solutions to the worlds' problems ...more
Mar 13, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Art history and political intrigue leading up to the Spanish civil war - lots of promise here, but it ultimately didn't work so well for me. I've seen other reviewers attribute some of the problem to a less than great translation. But I also had a rough time with the way some of the characters were drawn, including the Englishman Anthony Whitehead, whose preoccupation with his status/career in art history somehow still supersedes his response to what he witnesses bubbling up all around him, enda ...more
Feb 24, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, fiction
Enjoyable book set in the era preceding the Fascist revolution. The story is captivating and the characters are real, a few by name, and others representing those forces vying for power. The evolution of characters throughout does make for an interesting and sometimes suspenseful read. Most interesting is how the relationships reflect the inevitability of a revolution that everyone knows is coming; but, without knowledge of just what ideological form it will take. It is here that the read become ...more
Joan Fallon
Jul 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
An Englishman in Madrid (its English title) is a fascinating book, both comic and informative. It is interesting that Mendoza chose an Englishman as the blundering art expert who finds himself involved with many of the main players in the Spanish Civil War. It is early 1936, just before war breaks out and some of the detail is fascinating but still doesn't make it very clear about the different opinions held by the main protagonists. Still this is not a history book and as the Englishman stumble ...more
Jim Bartlett
Dec 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Extraordinary weaving of a story that has as it's historical background , the forces and political groups who detonated the explosive Spanish Civil war
The flawed central character, The Englishman in Madrid , ties together all the threads of the story it provides an enthralling insight into the political intrigues deceptions, and real life characters of the Madrid of 1936 It also provides an absorbing and thrilling fictional story that I found at times a little too complex in the fast shift
Feb 09, 2011 rated it liked it

I liked how he describes the atmosphere in Madrid just before the war and I think choosing someone foreigner to explain it all is probably a very smart way to avoid bias derived from the character's background.

I did not like how very rushed the ending seems, as if the author had realized that a that pace he was going to be well over the page number limit he had been given.

All in all, a good read.
Tiffany Williams
This book is a fantastic holiday read. The blurb suggests it's about a slick Englishman looking for a lost Velasquez, which...isn't the full picture. It's much more than that. It's a perceptive portrayal of the build-up to the Spanish Civil War mixed with the almost farcical misadventures of the Englishman inadvertently caught up in it all. To use a really hackneyed phrase, the twists and turns had me hooked. Muchas gracias Mendoza.
Jan 02, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think this book was intended to be a spoof of a certain type of English spy fiction, hence all the melodrama and "what are the odds of THAT?" I mean, it is farcical in parts and made me laugh out loud a couple of times, but all in all, I get the sense that the translator was not on the same wavelength as the author.

That said, I DID enjoy reading this. It was a good fictional introduction to the events leading up to the Spanish Civil War, if nothing else.
Marco Giordano
Oct 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
very interesting book, it tells of Madrid on the verge of Civil War, without getting too involved with the politics. The character of Anthony Whitelands is at times too predictable, but overall he keeps the story together very well. Expected a little more from side characters, although Paquita and Lili have great quotes. Overall, it's a great read, and would maybe even make a great theatre representation!
Steve Currie
Jan 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Billed as a cross between PG Wodehouse and Graham Green. Not funny enough for the former and not thrilling enough for the latter. Still a good well paced story with enough to keep you turning the pages. Too much Spanish art history for me but awarded it an extra star for its fascinating insight into the start of the Spanish Civil War. Some others may get a little bored with that though.
May 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: great-books
What was most striking about this book was the fact that the reader is taken on a panoramic journey through the political excesses of Madrid during the late 1930s. The novel is not a comedy, as some readers might be inclined to judge too quickly, but rather a tragic satire of Spanish politics just before the Spanish Civil War.
Apr 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
Aug 12, 2016 rated it liked it
Though the writing style was a bit old-fashioned and the story was somehow vague and ambiguous at times, I appreciate Mendoza's insight on the "cat fight" that took place in Madrid right before the Civil War hit Spain. I also enjoyed learning more about the meaning behind some of Velázquez' most famous paintings.
Mark McKenny
Jun 25, 2014 rated it liked it
Read it in English, of course. Enjoyed the book. Made it up the end at least. It's not a bad story, just a little bit flat. I struggle with new fiction, and out of the few bits and pieces I've read in the last year or two, this has been in the better half. But it wasn't as exciting or daring as say Zafon for example. 3/5, that's all I needed to say really.
Dagmara Janiszewska
Jul 05, 2014 rated it liked it
Too much politics for my taste ;)
Deborah Klein
Oct 11, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Could not read this. It was so boring, I only made it thru the first chapter. And I study art history.
Jan 12, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reading-groups
Couldn't really get to grips with this one. I think maybe I didn't get the humour!!!
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Eduardo Mendoza studied law in the first half of the 1960s and lived in New York between 1973 and 1982, working as interpreter for the United Nations.

He maintained an intense relationship with novelists Juan Benet and Juan García Hortelano, poet Pere Gimferrer and writer (and neighbour) Félix de Azúa.

In 1975 he published his very successful first novel, La verdad sobre el c