Sarah Walton on national vs personal trauma in her novel The Silk Pavilion

October 5, 2022



The Silk Pavilion explores the buried trauma of a woman and Spain’s Civil War simultaneously. Here, Sarah speaks about their powerful thematic interplay.

Sarah aligns personal trauma and national trauma through language, particularly the language of torture and war. Sarah also used specific historical references. For example, during the Spanish Civil War, sugar was a luxury commodity that soldiers used to pay women into having sex with them. Lucy notes that Miguel fixates on sugar and adds it to everything. In The Silk Pavilion, sugar is a weapon of degradation that Miguel uses against a vulnerable Lucy just as soldiers used it against vulnerable women.

Beyond the book, personal and national trauma are intertwined for Sarah because she’s determined to break the silence on both. The atrocities of the Spanish Civil War are repressed by The Pact of Forgetting, which ensured any war crimes or human rights violations weren’t investigated once the war ended. The dedication of The Silk Pavilion reads ‘For abused children and the adults we become’, because this book reveals Sarah herself as a victim of abuse.

Ultimately, Sarah believes silence perpetuates abuse,  so in speaking up she’s healing herself, and hopefully contributing to healing trauma from the Spanish Civil War.

The Silk Pavilion expertly explores the nature of abuse, the power of victims and Jungian psychology, all while being totally unputdownable. Lean more about The Silk Pavilion here or grab a copy now here.

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