Editorial Reviews

"An intensely rich and beautiful book written with the poetic touch of a writer whose heart unmistakably beats with Andalusian blood, Inheriting Our Names: An Imagined True Memoir of Spain's Pact of Forgetting by C. Vargas McPherson is the devastating story based on true events of a family torn asunder by Franco's Civil War in 1930s Spain. Tragedy mingles with religion and tradition as hunger and death approach the family's barrio in the city of Seville. Now, their granddaughter, the author, travels to Spain to imagine their story, and uncover the truth that stays silent under Spain's so-called Pact of Forgetting. This is a story of grief and pain, but also of healing and identity, of three women separated by time and war who weave together in a stunningly passionate examination of hidden history and its effects on the past, present, and future." 
SPR Publishing Review, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

"When trauma and violence occur, sometimes memories are suppressed or tucked away, deep into the history of a country, or inside a family, and individual psyches. And so it was with the family of C. Vargas McPherson. "Inheriting our Names" is a beautifully-depicted epic of family, war, and trans-generational grief. In lyrical prose, the book reveals family history that had been deeply buried in the past." 
Elizabeth Ussher Groff for Pamplin Media -- The Bee ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 

Reviews from Amazon

🐈 Amazon Customer

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Beautiful!

I love this beautiful "imagined true memoir." It is grounded AND ethereal. Open-eyed AND empathetic. And it is True, in the important capital "T" way.

McPherson writes "No one in my family would ever discuss this time of war, hunger and political oppression. So, in trying to discern a personal truth from the steely silences emanating from everyone, including my mother, I read books..." All kinds of books. Novels, histories, poets like Lorca and Machado. Then McPherson travels -- to Seville to sit in her grandmother's church, to walk in the festival processions, to visit the graves named and nameless.

McPherson's deep dive into the real and the imagined gave her room to fully inhabit the lives of her unforgettable characters. When I finished the book I had to sit with it awhile. I needed to sit with each of those people and hold space for the things I'd learned about them, their times and my own.

🏖 Tracy M

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Beautifully written

Reviewed in the United States on September 7, 2021

Verified Purchase

This is such a powerful story. The writing is exquisite! The way the author ties her own experiences to the those of her mother demonstrates how events can reverberate across generations.

🚲 Sparkscycle

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Poetic and Thoughtful

Reviewed in the United States on April 11, 2021

It's not a great revelation that we carry the pain of our parents. But how many of us ever really know what those pains are and the depth and breadth of intergenerational pain? Vargas-McPherson goes on a quest, back to her mother's native Sevilla, Spain, to try to untangle the rigorously silenced past. In this "Imagined True Memoir," she is poetic and thoughtful, courageous and insightful as she sits in the same church that her mother and her grandmother did. She tells the stories of the impact of the Spanish Civil War and Franco on her family members as well as the impact of the policy of "forgetting." The conclusion she reaches is one many of us do come to: that our parents' limitations are in response to horror and grief. But the heart, the curiosity, the penetrating lens into what might have led to her own particular family's pain - that makes this book a worthy read indeed.

💮 amaryllis london

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Powerful excavation of author's family history in Franco's Spain

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 1, 2021

What an amazing book. Trying to make sense of her own childhood experience, the author has travelled back three generations in her family's history to Seville in Southern Spain. There, as the fascist dictator Franco comes to power, the author attempts to imagine the grief of her grandmother who lost a young daughter to hunger. She explores how the suffering caused by this loss affected the generations to come. There is much to learn in this book about the history of Spain's civil war and also about how trauma can be transmitted from mother to child, but this is not a dry history book or a textbook of psychology. It is a lyrical and loving act of imagination, a painful but beautifully-told story, which feels like a magical realist novel. So much can be hidden in families, and even more so when generations have been brought up under a terrifying regime of silencing. But C Vargas McPherson has bravely ventured into hidden chapters of her family history, and in the act of retrieval she has attempted to release what darkness has been trapped. And throughout this book, she dares to explore how we are to live and be loving in a world where such horrors can happen.


⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ in the United States on July 20, 2021

Verified Purchase

Inheriting Our Names is a beautiful book. Vargas McPherson paints amazing, vivid imagery of pre-war Spain. While reading, I felt as if I was hearing the flamenco music or tasting the smoke in the air. The exploration of grief and transgenerational (and even National) trauma is not only thought-provoking, but also thoughtful and tender.

I highly recommend this “imagined, true memoir.” The magical realism, historical scenery, and personal connection makes for a stunning read.

 Reviews from Goodreads

📚Abigail DeWitt author of three novels: LILI (WW Norton), DOGS (Lorimer Press), and NEWS OF OUR LOVED ONES
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐  it was amazing  
I love that this book is described as "an imagined true memoir" and, indeed, it is both searingly honest and richly imagined. I was utterly engrossed by this lyrical, profound story of secrets and revelations, trauma and transformation, and am so glad to have discovered this writer. 

🏠 John
Inheriting Our Names is an astonishing, richly layered, and profoundly rewarding read.

In this “imagined true memoir,” C. Vargas McPherson showers her readers with gifts, including:

• a compelling, multi-generational saga with the sweep of Isabel Allende’s work
• sharply drawn and tenderly portrayed characters with familial relationships as rich and deep as those conjured by Amy Tan.
• descriptions of Seville that let the reader synesthetically experience that city of almost a century ago as vividly as Angela’s Ashes does for Limerick of the 1930’s.
• the pageantry and mysticism of devout Catholicism equaling Garcia-Marquez
• a primer on the Spanish Civil War, that little understood precursor to World War II that foreshadows so much of our current political landscape.

So much more than a simple sum of its ingredients, this story is an intimate and compassionate observation of families coping with grief, death, and the loss of children. It is a reckoning on the politics of war-ravaged cultures and the human tolls imposed on them. It contains unspeakably transcendent moments, and all of it is embroidered in lyrical, exquisite prose.

💧 Maddie
Inheriting Our Names is a stunning book. Vargas McPherson paints vivid imagery of pre-WWII Seville, scenes that are so visceral I felt as if I was hearing the music the dancers were dancing to and tasting the smoke in the air. The tender, thoughtful way the author explores and unveils the transgenerational grief that was carried by not only this one family but by all of Spain is beautiful.

I highly recommend this book. The soft, magical realism paired with the historical and personal story is captivating; it reads like poetry.

🌳 Suzyharris
I found this story captivating- one family’s experience of the Spanish Civil War and its reverberations through generations. Some moments I will never forget.


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