Tales of the Alhambra by Washington Irving


Audiobook.  When Jennifer was 10 we traveled to Europe and spent a week in the Alhambra near Grenada.  I had read this book and urged Jen to read it too.  She was reluctant until we arrived, then she was transfixed by it  and I enjoyed listening to again all these years later.

In 1829 Washington Irving, in his words, "made a rambling expedition from Seville to Grenada," and spent some months in the Alhambra.  Years later, in 1851, using his rough drafts, he wrote this work, describing the Alhambra itself, as well as the surrounding countryside.  He recounts many fantastical tales of the days of the Moors and more than a few stories of the buried treasure they left behind that was most often obtained through a magical talisman.  Many tales involved a beautiful princess locked in a tower.  His language is beautiful and reminds me of Edith Wharton or Henry James.  Here's a sweet little sample:

The great delight of Delores, however, has for some time past been centered in a youthful pair of pigeons, who have lately entered into the holy state of wedlock. Delores arranged a small room adjacent to the kitchen for them.  Here they lived in happy ignorance of any world beyond the court and its sunny roofs.  Their virtuous union was at length crowned by two spotless and milk-white eggs, to the great joy of their cherishing little mistress.  Nothing could be more praiseworthy than the conduct of the young married folks on this interesting occasion.  They took turns to sit upon the nest until the eggs were hatched and while their callow progeny required warmth and shelter; — while one thus stayed home, the other foraged abroad for food, and brought home abundant supplies.

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