David Aguilera’s life is collapsing around him. After the catastrophic loss of the vessel under his command and a perilous trek across the Baltics to safety, he returns home to find himself unable to reconnect with his family. Frustrated by his inability to express what he is feeling, his wife Margalit moves out to stay with friends, taking their children with her.
As David anxiously awaits the official inquiry into his conduct, he turns to those who are most important to him – his closest friend and comrade Marce; his Catholic adoptive mother; his Jewish birth mother; and Margalit, herself Sephardi Jewish. Faced with the prospect of losing his family altogether, he must confront his conflicting identities and faiths and decide the man he wants to become.
‘Small Wars in Madrid is a thoughtful novel about trauma, coming-to-self, and the sometimes inextricable links between such complex processes. ‘ — Ilana Masad, author of All My Mother’s Lovers
‘Anthony Ferner’s easy, fluent and often witty writing style breezed me through the story of David Aguilera, a Spanish naval commander pursued by professional and personal guilt and failure. As well as searching for some kind of atonement, Ferner’s protagonist grapples around trying to establish a religious and cultural identity for himself that proves shifting and tenuous. It’s a captivating page-turner with a skilfully-constructed narrative so from page one I’d signed up for Aguilera’s journey. He appears to await judgement from all sides and I was invested in the outcomes. Characters and settings alike are captured succinctly in precise and economical prose and there are many moving scenes between family members that I found particularly absorbing. It’s a story with real depth and empathy. ‘ — Fran Hill, author of Miss, What Does Incomprehensible Mean? and Cuckoo in the Nest