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10 must-see series based on Spanish books

In recent times books have ceased to be just a tool to make us dream and take us to other worlds through their pages, and are undergoing a process of transformation that gives them a new life: from paper they are moving to new formats, thus reaching a wider audience both within and beyond our borders. One of these changes has a lot to do with literary adaptations to the small screen, which have managed to turn many of these titles into a global phenomenon with an ever-growing following. 

Streaming platforms have become one of the most popular entertainment options and our literature could not fail to be present on them. If you don’t know what to watch now that the holidays are approaching, we give you several options of Spanish series born from the adaptation of books by Spanish authors. Get your blanket and popcorn ready because this Christmas you have plenty of options to choose from.

Patria, on HBO Spain

The great success of Fernando Aramburu, published by Tusquets in 2016, became one of the great premieres of the year on HBO. In its eight chapters, it tells the story of two families from the same village whose lives are torn apart by the Basque conflict over the course of two decades.

Tell me who I am, on Movistar +

Julia Navarro’s book, published by Plaza & Janés in 2010, traces the life of its protagonist, Amelia Garayoa, over the course of more than 50 years. Espionage and intrigue in its purest form, love and heartbreak, adventure and history in a turbulent era marked by wars and political tensions. Tell me who I am is a gripping tale starring unforgettable characters whose lives build a magnificent portrait of the history of 20th century Europe.

Valeria, on Netflix

To date there are two seasons available on this streaming platform, based on the saga of four books by Elisabet Benavent published by Suma. The series follows the life of Valeria, a writer who is not going through her best moment professionally and sentimentally. The emotional distance that separates her from her husband leads her to seek refuge with her three best friends: Carmen, Lola and Nerea.

El tiempo entre costuras, on Amazon Prime Video

This work by María Dueñas, published by Planeta in 2009 and previously broadcast on Antena 3, became one of the most eagerly awaited at the time after the success of the novel and its protagonist, Sira. Now it can be watched in its entirety on Amazon Prime Video and relive once again the life of this young dressmaker and her journey from Madrid to Tangiers, where a change of life awaits her that she could never have imagined. 

The writer has just published the sequel, Sira, in 2021, although there is still no confirmation that it will make the leap to the screen.

The Cathedral of the Sea, on Netflix

The Catalan writer Ildefonso Falcones is the author of this work, which Antena 3 turned into an eight-episode miniseries, and which later became part of Netflix’s offer. The plot takes us to 14th century Barcelona, where the life of Arnau Estanyol runs parallel to the construction of the new Catholic temple in honour of the Virgin Mary of the Sea. Arnau will fight for the freedom and dignity of the poor, something that will bring him into conflict with the power of the nobles.

The Cook of Castamar, on Netflix

Written by Fernando J. Múñez and published by Planeta in 2019, the series is set in Madrid in 1720 and focuses on the life of Clara Belmonte, an agoraphobic cook who starts working in the kitchen of the Duchy of Castamar, fleeing from a painful past marked by the death of her father, accused of treason. There she falls in love with the Duke of Castamar, Diego, with whom she will live a complicated love story.

La Fortuna, on Movistar +

Alejandro Amenábar writes and directs this series which is the adaptation of the graphic novel El tesoro del Cisne Negro, by Paco Roca and Guillermo Corral, published by Astiberri in 2018. Shot between Spain and North America, the six-episode miniseries narrates the adventures of Álex Ventura, a young and inexperienced diplomat who unwittingly becomes the leader of a mission: to recover the underwater treasure stolen by Frank Wild.

The TVE series

Radio Televisión Española was a pioneer in adapting classic works of Spanish literature to the small screen. Currently, through the RTVE Play platform, you can enjoy series such as La Regenta by Leopoldo Alas ‘Clarín’, starring Aitana Sánchez Gijón and Carmelo Gómez; Fortunata y Jacinta, by Mario Camus with Ana Belén in the lead role, or Cañas y Barros, the work of the same name by Vicente Blasco Ibáñez with Victoria Vera. 

The latest and most recent adaptation is Ana Tramel. El juego, starring Maribel Verdú, a brilliant criminal lawyer in her lowest hours. A series that adapts the novel by Roberto Santiago, published by Planeta in 2017.

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