A perfect Sunday afternoon read about a curious cache of characters whose wealth has diminished, but honorable reputations remain intact, to which Qu A perfect Sunday afternoon read about a curious cache of characters whose wealth has diminished, but honorable reputations remain intact, to which Queen Victoria generously sanctions a “grace-and favour” residence at Hampton Court Palace. Just as Princess Alexandrina learns the appalling news that her father, His Highness, the Maharaja’s (of Prindur) death has left her penniless, an invitation to inhabit one of these dwellings arrives, while certainly not in the lavish style she is accustomed to prior to her father’s death, it, at least, solves one dilemma and provides a roof over “Mink’s” and her maid Pooki’s heads.
And therein Julia Stuart creates the delightful tale with remarkable historical accuracy, and that whimsical essence which forces one to turn page after page, totally engaged in the unconventional lives of royalty, neighbors, friends, and perhaps, a villain.
Examining each of these remarkably distinctive characters, dissecting their flaws and attributes, rambling through their unique residences, and marveling at Mink’s shrewd detection methods to identify the possible villain, it occurs to me, should Her Highness, Princess Alexandrina of Prindur decide that teas, luncheons, and fancy balls fail to fully engage her ingenuous mind; other more adventurous venues might prevail. Should all else fail, there is the dependable, though occasionally socially inept Dr. Henderson.
The Time In Between is a comprehensively challenging fictional debut; over 600 pages of minutely researched Spanish history is skillfully woven into aThe Time In Between is a comprehensively challenging fictional debut; over 600 pages of minutely researched Spanish history is skillfully woven into a page-turning tome that totally tugs the reader into the fascinating life of a remarkable young woman whose determination, strength, and demeanor irrevocably changes her destiny.
The consequential trials endured during and after Spain’s Civil War, leaves a country politically and ideologically divided, its citizens cautious not only of what the new regime will offer, but also of speculation how their lives will be further altered as Spain becomes a precious pawn between Britain and Germany, the two main players as World War II descends upon this war-weary country.
Daughter of a Madrid dressmaker, Sira’s initial efforts to be more independent than her mother miserably fail; unknowingly her serendipitous recourse to join her mother in one of Madrid’s famed couturier’s back room results into a captivating journey which Sira could never have imagined. Infatuated with a callous lover, Sira travels to Morocco where she is left penurious, shamefully humiliated, and unable to pay hotel expenses incurred by her devious lover. Arrested by a sympathetic local police chief, her dignity and future unhinged, Sira resolves to pay her debt any way possible. When her skills as a seamstress are noticed by Nazi officers’ wives, Sira captivates them with the unusually beautiful fabrics secreted within certain sections of Tetuán, her temporary home. As she gains recognition for her exceptional couturier’s flair, Sira, a woman of countless talents, is introduced to a dangerously clandestine world that exists within a world at war. Her eventual entre and covert collaboration thrust Sira into a quagmire of unremitting vigilance which requires exhaustively instinctive discernment of distinguishing who is trustworthy, and who is traitor.
Maria Dueñas deliberately infuses true historical characters and locales into this exquisitely scripted narrative. Daunting at first, I was amazed how quickly mesmerizing this book became, and not only was it an unexpected lesson in history, but also one of the best books I have read. ...more