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Winter in Madrid

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  9,091 Ratings  ·  917 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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The Time in Between by María DueñasWinter in Madrid by C.J. SansomHomage to Catalonia by George OrwellFor Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway1984 by George Orwell
Novels Inspired by the Spanish Civil War
2nd out of 68 books — 105 voters
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz ZafónDon Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes SaavedraEl juego del ángel by Carlos Ruiz ZafónFor Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest HemingwayCathedral of the sea by Ildefonso Falcones
6th out of 216 books — 188 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
Jul 23, 2014 Xrusanthi rated it it was ok
Shelves: reading-in-2011
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
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
Dec 18, 2013 Rachele rated it did not like it
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
Bill Khaemba
D.N.F. @ 59%

I have been debating whether to finish this book or not :( I absolutely hate it when you first get a book and you are really really beyond excited, then when you finally get to read it...

I was really excited guys, I feel really let down... It was an epic thriller love story (not to interested in the love parts tho) set in 1940's Spain. I loved the setting of war and the feel the book had, the culture, the effects of war were painted out really good but the characters were not memor
Lance Greenfield
Aug 08, 2015 Lance Greenfield rated it really liked it
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
Mar 14, 2013 Myckyee rated it it was amazing
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
Jessica Howard
Mar 11, 2008 Jessica Howard rated it really liked it
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
Aug 25, 2016 Nihan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite
Kral Alfonso'nun tahttan feragat edişinden sonra cumhuriyetçilerin ve işçi sınıfının yönetimi ele geçirdiği İspanya'da o zamana kadar ezilen halk için de büyük bir umut doğmuş. Fakat dünyanın başında Hitler ve Mussolini gibi iki felaket varmış ve cumhuriyetçilere karşı Franco'yu destekleyip askeri destek sağlamışlar. Sonrası korkunç bir iç savaş ve Franco'nun kazanmasının ardından gelen "temizleme" süreci...

Hikaye iç savaşın bitip muhbirlerin, işkencecilerin ve İspanyol Gestaposu sayılan Falanji
Aug 05, 2015 Salma rated it liked it
ثلاثة بريطانيين كانوا زملاء في مدرسة داخلية للأثرياء حين كانوا صغارا ثم افترقوا، و بعد مرور الأعوام تتقاطع أقدارهم في مدريد زمن الحرب العالمية الثانية... أما الأول فسجين في أحد معتقلات الدكتاتور فرانكو، أما الثاني فرجل أعمال مراوغ يستثمر في حكومة فرانكو، و أما الثالث فمترجم في السفارة البريطانية كانت قد استجلبته ليتجسس على صديقه رجل الأعمال... و رابعة الرجال الثلاثة امرأة بريطانية صديقة للكل، و التي كانت تخطط لتهريب حبيبها السجين من المعتقل... 0
هذه التقاطعات كانت على خلفية تاريخية تؤرخ لتلك الحق
Mar 21, 2009 Lee rated it liked it
Recommended to Lee by: Bettie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 14, 2008 susan rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 02, 2015 Samantha rated it really liked it
Shelves: own-it, wwii
CJ Sansom is among my favorite writers, particularly for his unparalleled creation of Matthew Shardlake, who I've talked about so much my husband thought he was a real person. I started this book with some trepidation, however, wondering how I would feel about a non-Shardlake Sansom novel.

The Madrid that Sansom transports the reader to is that of poverty and political struggle following Spain's Civil War and during World War II. The landscape, complex history, and attitudes of the times are used
Nov 01, 2015 Susu rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
This book is a bit quirky, but as I read I began enjoying it more and more and then came the ending! I was so frustrated that it ended abruptly with the climax of the story. There is an epilogue, but it seems a rushed attempt to bring about some type of conclusion - an 'oh by the way'. With that, I thought it was surely a 3 star read, but I can not. Why? Because I learned a great deal and I appreciated the well researched, detailed writing by Sansom. There were no anachronisms, no lazy writing. ...more
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This was actually the first ebook I started when I first got my Kobo Glo. However, I didn't finish it until recently. Truth be told, I'd never made it past the 70 pages mark since I found the story slow and the Dutch translation, for lack of a better way to describe it, weird.

Set between the Spanish civil war and the second World War, the story had a great potential. A reluctant spy sent to Spain on a secret mission. It felt like the bo
Feb 22, 2009 Betty rated it really liked it
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
Susan Johnson
Jun 17, 2012 Susan Johnson rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 17, 2008 Esther rated it did not like it
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
Apr 14, 2009 Ann rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 22, 2009 Laura rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Laura by: Bettie (Goodreads Reader!)
This book speaks as itself, in spite the author doesn't employ Spanish characters.
May 16, 2015 Bandit rated it really liked it
This was a fairly random choice based on a comparison to the excellent Carlos Ruiz Zafon and the realization that I don't in fact know very much about Spanish history circa WWII and Franco's regime. Traditionally I'm not a fan of fat books and this did take a while for me to slog through, but it never really dragged and was actually a very rewarding reading experience, sort of like a tv show enjoyed in episodes one is always looking forward to. Sansom is a very talented author and it's obvious t ...more
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
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
Cork Tarplee
Jun 10, 2012 Cork Tarplee rated it liked it
Astonished by C J Sansom's Matthew Shardlake series, I took a gamble on his Winter in Madrid. While I learned more about the awful history of the Spanish Civil War than I could ever have brought myself to learn any other way, I confess I was disappointed. The very things that astonish me about the Shardlake series grated on me in WIM. Sansom has a tremendous ability to use minor detail to bring a long gone era to life. But perhaps because the details of the twentieth century are not so different ...more
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
Aug 17, 2009 Aarti rated it liked it

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
Mar 14, 2011 Tuck rated it liked it
Shelves: spain
sansom i guess is really noted for his series of Shardlake mysteries set in 1400's england, noted especially for his great historical detail and synthesis. So i thought why not? i'll bite on one of my favorite topics, spain.
This takes place in 1940, franco is the man, england is playing the great game in iberia too (as we see now, everybody lost in the great game), and our protaginist Harry, suffering from pretty bad PTSD from his service in the war to end all wars, gets a gig working as a spy a
May 21, 2016 Katie rated it it was ok
I would describe this as professional writing. As if the book is a product of a commission rather than inspiration. The story’s okay; the characters are reasonably engaging, the research never intrudes too much in the narrative but it just doesn’t have that animating charge, that racing heartbeat that a novelist who’s whole heartedly immersed in his story brings to a novel.
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
Jan 14, 2011 Sam rated it it was amazing
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
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2015 Reading Chal...: Winter in Madrid by C.J. Sansom 1 21 Jan 05, 2015 04:11PM  
  • Guernica
  • The Spanish Bow
  • Villa Triste
  • Ghosts of Spain: Travels Through Spain and Its Silent Past
  • The Street Philosopher
  • Rosie's War
  • Charlotte Gray
  • The Gallows Curse
  • The Conductor
  • Prophecy (Giordano Bruno, #2)
  • Stettin Station (John Russell, #3)
  • Pavel & I
  • Csardas
  • The Last English King
  • Watcher in the Pine (Tejada, #3)
  • Fires in the Dark
  • The Spanish Game (Alec Milius #2)
  • Stone's Fall
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
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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” 5 likes
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