In Branches, book two in The Olive Tree, my Spanish Civil War Saga, Heini Hopkins, my nurse, travels to the Paris Exhibition of 1937 to meet a contact en route to Spain. Many volunteers used the Paris Exhibition as cover for their journeys to Spain because a visit to the exhibition did not require a passport. In the 1930s not many working class people owned a passport.
The exhibition ran from 25 May to 25 November 1937 and was extremely popular, attracting over 31 million visitors.
The Spanish pavilion included Joan Miró’s painting Catalan Peasant in Revolt, Alexander Calder’s sculpture Mercury Fountain and Pablo Picasso’s Guernica, his now-famous expression of the horrors of war, and the barbaric act that motivated Heini to volunteer as a nurse in Spain.
Young nurse, Heini Hopkins, travels through France en route to Spain where she hopes to discover the fate of her boyfriend, Deiniol Price, an International Brigades volunteer. She also intends to nurse the Loyalist soldiers as they fight the fascists in the Spanish Civil War.
Taking a similar, though unconnected journey, novelist Naomi Parker travels to Spain where she intends to write propaganda pieces on behalf of the fascists. She also intends to meet up with the man of her dreams, dashing bomber pilot, Prince Nicolas Esteban.
While Naomi samples the high life in Spain, Heini is thrust on to the frontline where she tends an endless line of wounded soldiers.
The Loyalists train with wooden sticks instead of guns while the fascists bomb them from their German aeroplanes. Against such overwhelming odds, how can Deiniol survive? Furthermore, how can Heini remain true to herself amidst the chaos? While searching for answers, she learns the truth about herself, along with painful lessons about love and war.