IN THE 1940s AND 1950s, ten and twenty years on from the civil war, a handful of Spanish anarchist exiles waged a stubborn rearguard action against the Franco regime. With his novel The Spanish Horse, André Héléna remains the only French author to seize upon this feat in order to pay tribute to its obscure heroes. André Héléna was no historian and never claimed to be writing history books, let alone historical fiction. Ultimately what matters in The Spanish Horse is the blend of atmosphere, tension and languour of a Spain that Héléna populates with indomitable, gloomy desperadoes and exiles. He also excels at conveying the sadness of those grey years in a land doing penance under the mantle of Francoism, condemned to genuflection and straight arm salutes, stifling under the fug from incense-burners and stooped under the Falange’s yoke and arrows and with the black tricorn hats of the Civil Guard riding herd on it.