Winter in Madrid
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Winter in Madrid

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  5,887 ratings  ·  716 reviews
Part thriller, part love story, this tale follows the fortunes of three young men, navigating the tumultous world of 1940s Spain. As the Second World war begins, one is sent to spy on another and the ramifications of a tragic love story will haunt them all.
Paperback, 549 pages
Published October 1st 2006 by Pan Books (UK) (first published January 1st 2006)
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Winter in Madrid by C.J. SansomThe Time in Between by María DueñasThe Assassin's Mark by David Ebsworth1984 by George OrwellA World Between Us by Lydia Syson
Novels Inspired by the Spanish Civil War
1st out of 56 books — 82 voters
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz ZafónThe Guardian of Secrets and Her Deathly Pact by Jana PetkenDon Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes SaavedraThe Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz ZafónFor Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
Spain
6th out of 183 books — 142 voters


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Community Reviews

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Julie
It's so difficult for me to grasp that this was published in 2006. Sansom must have been channeling Graham Greene, maybe a bit of Hemingway and the best of le Carre. His style is so utterly of the time. The characters' diction, actions, motivations are so in context; it really speaks to the brilliance of the writer.

This is a story that unfolds quietly, with great dignity, showcasing the stiff-upper-lip, public school breeding of its central characters. The story begins in late autumn 1940 amid...more
Michele
It takes a darned good book to get a 5-star review out of me. I'd give this one 10 stars if it were an option.

In 1936 Spain, as World War II was gearing up, a military uprising led by General Franco sprang up against a leftist government and the Spanish Civil War began. Unable to obtain help from any other country, the leftist government turned to the Stalin who was all too happy to export his particular brand of "assistance."

And so it was that the Spanish people found themselves in the crossf...more
Myckyee
I love it when I unexpectedly come across a book in which the author tells a story around events that actually happened and people who really existed. It makes me want to learn more about the events and how they shaped the lives of the people affected. This is one of those books.

During Spain’s civil war Bernie Piper, a communist from Britain, joined the International Brigades and was sent to fight against the fascists. The last he was heard from was at the battle of Jarama in 1937. Bernie’s pare...more
Lance Greenfield
Could have been a great book with a little more care

The storyline, with all of its sub-plots and inter-twining of characters, is excellent. It builds very well on the memories of Harry, an accidental spy; Barbara, a Red Cross nurse; Bernie, a public school friend of Harry and the love of Barbara’s life; and Sandy, a rather objectionable classmate of Harry and Bernie.

The author has obviously researched the period of Spanish history which spans the decade from 1931 to 1941 so well that the weaving...more
Jessica Howard
I did not enjoy the end of this book, but I don't want to give it away, so I won't say anything more. I did enjoy most of the book however. I was unfamiliar with most of the details of Franco's regime, and it was interesting to read about all the different factions. The main character, Harry Brett, is sent to Spain to spy on his old school friend, Sandy Forsyth, who is involved with the Fascists in Spain. Harry and Sandy had gone to school with another boy, Bernie Piper, who is presumed dead--bu...more
Rachele
Do not read this book unless you want to be bored to tears for 500 pages and then deeply frustrated/dissatisfied for the last 25. That is literally how this book is structured: boring, boring, boooooring page after page of crawlingly-slow moving plot, trying to keep your eyes open long enough to give a shit about the characters and the scenes of each moment of each day of their lives..... and THEN at the end, when there are a series of plot twists arranged in a clumsy fashion, you just wish you...more
susan
reccomended summer mystery novel number 2!

I'm calling it. This book is worthy of my five stars. Mostly because the answer is yes to all of these questions: did I want to read it with every spare moment I had? Did I constantly find myself thinking about the book when I wasn't reading it, wishing I could find out what was going to happen next? Did I learn something about history I didn't know before- this thime being facism and spain and WWII? Did I love the characters? Did I love all of the relat...more
Betty
Feb 22, 2009 Betty rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of historical and war fiction
I began reading Winter in Madrid with the idea of a mystery and found it difficult to follow in those terms. Once I started reading the book as a historical novel, it began to really take form. C.J. Samson has done an excellent job of relating conditions in Spain through the 1930s and 40s.

The Spanish Civil War has just ended and Hitler is preparing to move into Spain in WWII. A young man from Britain, survivor of the Dunkirk fiasco, finds himself heading to Spain as a spy. He is very uncomforta...more
Lee
Mar 21, 2009 Lee rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Lee by: Bettie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ann
A truly unputdownable book. Totally believable characters and vivid descriptions of living in a war torn city. Have a different perspective on the Spanish Civil War now. highly recommend this book. Genuinely amazing
Laura
Mar 22, 2009 Laura rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Laura by: Bettie (Goodreads Reader!)
This book speaks as itself, in spite the author doesn't employ Spanish characters.
Xrusanthi
The sroty takes place after the civil war and during WW2 in Spain. The author must have done quite a research and I think he captures the atmosphere of Madrid at that period quite nicely.
This novel could have been great! I mean there was a war, a traitor, a reluctant spy, an abused woman and a love triangle, but unfortunately it didn't live up to my expectations.The story had potentials, but I didn't like the way the author painted the characters.In my opinion, he was far more concentrated on th...more
Larou
Along with modernism came a certain loss in trust in the reliability of conventional narrative structures, and every major work of fiction from the twentieth century onwards has had to somehow come to terms with the insight that realism is just one literary trope among others and has no privileged claim to truth. Historical novels (and indeed, the writing of history itself) have not remained unaffected by this either, and the works of the likes of Alfred Döblin and William Faulkner, Cormac McCar...more
Alana
I read this book as a suggestion from another Goodreads member. Having spent a summer in Spain studying Spanish and living with a woman who living during the Franco era, I was curious to know more about the time and what it was like to live there. This book is about people and politics, the two topics that seem to dominate all areas of life in one way or another. There are ordinary people, trying to live their lives for something more, to make a difference in one small way or another and to upho...more
Aarti

I enjoyed Winter in Madrid because its characters were all so very flawed. I didn't love any of them- and more surprisingly, most of them didn't even seem to like each other. This led to some awkwardness in scenes, but in general, it was more interesting than awkward. And for all the book's being set in Spain and being about intelligence operations with Spaniards and the clash between Communism and Fascism and the poverty and pain the Spaniards faced... let's be honest, this book is all about En...more
Esther
Aug 17, 2008 Esther rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: I would not recommend it at all
Shelves: thriller
It was difficult to keep on reading this book and I hated the ending.

The author did not succeed in making his characters likeable and I could not identify with the main character at all. I found myself not caring what happened to them. That said I was annoyed at how the main characted seemed to have given up on life in the epilogue. All in all it was tedious and I'm happy to have finally finished it.

The book is not very well written all in all and interesting only because I learned a lot about...more
catzkc
This was my first non-Shardlake book of C.J. Sansom. I had put off reading it, afraid it wouldn't live up to the Shardlake series, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I shouldn't have been afraid!

I always wanted to learn more about the Spanish Civil War. The Shadow on the Wind is the only other book I've read that kind of dealt with it - and that book didn't go into it in any detail. This book will give you a pretty good crash course - with glimpses of Spain before the Civil War, during and especially...more
Ale
It's funny how sometimes you don't realise just how much you like a genre until you let yourself be truly swept away by it. I'm a massive fan of historical fiction, one of those people who devours books with a historical backdrop, because I adore the idea of everyday stories set in extraordinary circumstances. In this case, WWII Spain, after Franco has taken control of the country.

The novel follows Harry Brett, a Secret Service agent sent to gain the confidence of Sandy Forsyth, Bernie Piper, a...more
Sam
Once again I can't fault Sansom's writing at all. Set in Madrid (obviously) during the aftermath of the Civil War and the early years of the Second World War, it follows the stories of three Rookwood school friends as they become entangled in the politics of the time, some voluntarily others by chance. The story is complex with many interwoven aspects from politics itself to the emotions of the characters as they have to deceive those they love in order to achieve their goals. Sansom recreates t...more
Charles
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and not only because I read it during a five-day winter break in Madrid. I found it informative, gripping, moving, and totally convincing - the flatness of tone some people have mentioned lent the book an authority it might not have had otherwise, reminding me a little of the work of Nigel Balchin. Whether or not you're interested in the period (the Spanish Civil War and WW2) or the genre (historical thriller/espionage), a genre it, incidentally, transcends, I'd r...more
Susan Johnson
What I knew about the Spanish Civil War could fit in one sentence- Heminway reported on it. Now that I've admitted my appalling ignorance, let me say that I learned quite a bit and was entertained along the way. There were so many factions that I had trouble keeping them straight. What I did learn was the Spanish people lived in horrifying conditions and were as beleagured as the parts of Europe under Hitler's rule.
The story of the school boys- Harry, Bernie and Sandy- was the heart of the story...more
Gill
This is a book and a half, with a historical note at the end.
It's all Helena's fault! She said "read some Sansom". How was I to know C.J. was such a prolific author of various genres, as well as muddling him up with Ian Sansom, who writes a different genre again!
I am sooo glad I read this book.
It deals with some difficult and dark issues using one of three boys who met at a public school as the central character to explore Spain in the war years, with flashbacks to Spain during the civil war...more
Tasha
While at times I felt this one moved a bit slow, at least up until the end, it was a great read. I learned much about a time in history I didn't know anything about: The Spanish Civil War. I've been so occupied with the other events during WWII that I seemed to have missed this one. I feel like I have a great basis now for this conflict and the historical note at the end helped to clarify all I learned while reading the story. Sansom sets the details well both historically and in period. I found...more
Lewis Weinstein
A very well done historical novel, with well developed complex characters. But the most significant thing for me was this was the first time I felt I was beginning to understand something of the confusion that was the Spanish Civil War.
Paul
Harry Brett had been at Dunkirk, but was narrowly missed by a shell that killed the next soldier along. He has been discharged as an invalid and is approached by SIS. They are asking him to spy on someone he knew from his former school, Sandy Forsythe, who has financial interests in Spain and the British government want to know how closely linked he is to the Franco regime. He is dispatched to Madrid with his cover as a translator, and starts to make contact.
Forsythe’s wife is a lady called Barb...more
Allan
This novel by CJ Sansom is set in 1940 in Franco's ravaged post Civil War Spain, with the backdrop of war in Europe loving large over all the protagonists.

The novel begins with Harry Brett, a Dunkirk veteran, invalided out of the army with an ear injury and shell shock, being sent to Spain by intelligence officials ostensibly as a translator, but with the express purpose of finding out about the business interests of a former school friend, Sandy Forsyth. Meanwhile, another narrative strand put...more
Stephen Hayes
This is a spy novel, but not the usual spy novel. There was a glut of spy novels during the Cold War, from about 1960-1990, so that one almost came to think of the genre as belonging specifically to that period. But this one is set 20 years earlier, in 1940, just after the end of the Spanish Civil War, so it also belongs to the genre of historical novels.

It has been also described in the blurb as a thriller and a love story, and I suppose that it is those too, though I didn't find it a page tur...more
Patricia Fawcett
This is a beautifully-written account of events in Madrid in the winter of 1940, set against the uncertain and volatile political climate of post-Civil War Spain. Franco's regime is brutal against Communists who fought in the conflict and equally so towards the ordinary citizens of Madrid, upon whom harsh penalties - apparently sanctioned by the Church - are inflicted, and among whom deprivation is rife. Three young men, products of the public school system, find themselves in Spain for various...more
Dorothy
I finished this book while I was on vacation last week. I found myself reluctant to read the last three chapters, because I just knew things were not going to end well for some of the characters in whom I had invested empathy. It turned out I was correct, but not altogether in the way I had anticipated.

The World War II period, which is the time frame of the book, is really not my favorite period of history to read about. Perhaps it is because my father was a veteran of that "good war" and I grew...more
Jacquelynn Luben
Having just finished read a wartime novel of more than 500 pages, it was a strange coincidence to find myself reading another war book - this time based around the Spanish Civil War. Two more coincidences - the main protagonist in Winter in Madrid is a Cambridge don, whilst a Cambridge man features in my previous read - Don't Know Where, Don't Know When. The former was partly set in a Japanese prison camp, while the latter was partly set in a prison camp in Spain. The torture of prisoners carrie...more
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Christopher John "C.J." Sansom is an English writer of crime novels. He was born in 1952 and was educated at the University of Birmingham, where he took a BA and then a PhD in history. After working in a variety of jobs, he decided to retrain as a solicitor. He practised for a while in Sussex as a lawyer for the disadvantaged, before quitting in order to work full-time as a writer.
He came to promi...more
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“Funny, when i was a little boy I wanted to be good. But I could never seem to manage it somehow. And if you're not good, the good people will throw you to the wolves. So you might as well just be bad” 2 likes
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