Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Return” as Want to Read:
The Return
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Return

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  9,138 ratings  ·  716 reviews
Beneath the majestic towers of the Alhambra, Granada's cobbled streets resonate with music and secrets. Sonia Cameron knows nothing of the city's shocking past; she is here to dance. But in a quiet café, a chance conversation and an intriguing collection of old photographs draw her into the extraordinary tale of Spain's devastating civil war.

Seventy years earlier, the café
Hardcover, 1st Edition, 432 pages
Published June 26th 2008 by Headline Review (first published 2008)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  9,138 ratings  ·  716 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Return
Tara Chevrestt
After being blown away by "The Island" I immediately ordered "The Return" and I am not disappointed. I am now an official Victoria Hislop fan. Her novels are to be savored and enjoyed.

"The Return" begins in recent times in England. Readers are introduced to a middle aged woman named Sonia. This part is very similiar to "The Island" as both heroines are having relationship issues and are both facing similiar difficult choices.. basically "stay with this jerk or leave" type choices. I found parts
Jun 22, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, bookcrossing
Oh dear. This just doesn't work at all. The modern-day story wrapped around the historical part is so flimsy and cliched that it would have been better to leave it out altogether and just tell the civil war story. A basic structural flaw was that Miguel simply could not have known all the details given here. Every now and then,Hislop remembers, oops, Miguel is supposed to be telling the story here, so she flips back to the present day for a paragraph so that they can order another coffee. Could ...more
Lance Greenfield
Oct 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Gripping account of the Spanish Civil War

The body of this book consists the story of the Ramirez family of Granada during the Spanish Republic, the Civil War and the ensuing years. It is a tremendously powerful narrative and cannot fail to stir the emotions. The detail reflects the huge effort that the author must have put into her research.

The vehicle for the main story, which is the journey of Sonia, as she tries to fill the gap left in her life by her empty marriage with an adventure into
Feb 01, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I DIDN'T like this, not at all!!! Look, I gave it a very good fair chance...... I can think of two positive things to say about this book.
1. Flamenco is superbly described with an emtion that totally pulls the reader in.
2. The reader is given a clear resumé of the time leading up Spanish Civil War 1936-1939, the Civil War itself and a teeny, teeny bit about its aftermath. BUT, it reads like a school book for children. Simplistic. The story is simply a showcase for the events of the war. After
Meira Eliot
May 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
It's almost as if countries can have karma, like people do. While the rest of us Europeans were still in the Dark Ages, Spain was a multi-ethnic island of tolerance and excellence, safeguarding the legacy of the Greeks through Arab translations. Then along come Ferdinand and Isabella, chuck out the Jews and the Muslims in the same year as Columbus discovered America, and the upshot is a quagmire of bigotry and intolerance that is still going on in the 20th century in the form of the Spanish ...more
Jan 12, 2012 rated it it was ok
There are many things to like about The Return, but also some things that were too predictable and required a willing suspension of belief. The good parts: the descriptions of flamenco were wonderful. I know so little about this dance and I learned a lot. I could tell that she definitely did her research about the Spanish Civil War, which is also an era of history I know too little about. All of my knowledge about this era comes from "The Shadow of the Wind" and the movie "Pan's Labyrinth." ...more
Mummy Loves Books
Jun 13, 2013 rated it liked it
I really enjoyed Victoria Hislops The Island so as soon as I saw this had been released I put my name down at the library to borrow a copy. The book started well as we follow Sonia, an unhappily married woman, to Granada where she and a friend have booked a holiday and some dance lessons. We follow her as she becomes more immersed in the salsa and flamenco dances and as she meets an elderly cafe owner who begins to tell her about the family who owned the cafe at the time of the civil war.

At this
Julia Herdman
Jul 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is an ambitious book covering much of the history of the gruesome Spanish civil war. It opens in the present with a more light-hearted subject: dancing. Thirty-five-year-old Londoner Sonia and her wild-child schoolmate Maggie have taken up salsa. They head to Granada to attend a course, much to the disapproval of Sonia's husband James, who reckons she should concentrate her energies on hosting dinner parties and providing a son and heir. While Maggie throws herself into the holiday ...more
Annemieke Windt
Mar 18, 2012 rated it it was ok
I struggle to come up with an opinion about Victoria Hislop's The Return. It took me weeks to finish it, which isn't a good omen because she knows to write with a certain pace. The storyline is intriguing, because it deals with a partly forgotten war in the rest of Europe, the Spanish cival war. That by itself should offer enough drama, but the main part of the book, telling the story of the Ramirez family from Granada, feels different. As a reader I felt that I witnessed everything through a ...more
Jun 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It made me want to learn much more about the Spanish Civil War. It shocked me to find out that this was happening in the 20th centuary and yet I did not learn anything about it at school. I never realised the extent that the spanish people were put through.
As for the book I felt it was excellent, the story (although predictable) the historical information, the descriptions and the best reason I loved the book it made me want to dance.
Gary Brooks
Sep 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful and sometimes tragic story of unrequited love and the power of the human spirit.
Sep 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-review
The Return feels as if it’s almost told in two parts. In the present day you meet Sonia. She’s a middle-aged woman who is having relationship issues and is facing some tough decisions when it comes to her marriage. She is visiting Spain with a friend and they decide to take some dancing classes to celebrate her friend’s birthday.

While on her trip she meets an elderly waiter at a cafe who tells her the story of the Ramirez family and the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s. Pablo and Concha Ramirez
Elle Saverini
Aug 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This was a painful read; got a lot more than I'd asked for.
The book's strength is completely in the flashback telling of Franco's rise in pre-WWII Spain. I was completely ignorant of his torturous reign and it got-to-me in it's intensely graphic and devastating familial context. Never-the-less, I highly recommend it.
The dovetailing story of flamenco over two generations, and the modern British romances (wait, is this last an oxymoron?) work well, but Hislop has a clunky hand in the love arena
Aug 24, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: female-author, r
I enjoy books with a historical aspect and seem to have read a few related to the Spanish Civil War recently and this one was enjoyable enough if not a little predictable. I also felt that i didn’t connect with the characters in the same way as I did with ‘The Island’ and didn’t really care what was happening to them and the book lack something. Although dance was meant to be an integral part of the story I felt it added little other than added description. I felt there was lack of development ...more
Aug 08, 2016 rated it liked it
Flamenco and the Spanish civil war and a love story. The frame story is about a 35 year old English woman who listens to an old man telling the story of a flamenco dancer and her family during the Spanish civil war.
I have very little knowledge of the Spanish civil war and therefor this book filled a big gap in my knowledge (well the gap is still there but not as big).

The Spanish civil war was a very cruel and bloody war (aren't they all?) . I often considered what books will be written about
Feb 15, 2017 rated it liked it
So this is really two books; a modern framework as a vehicle for telling a story about the Spanish civil war. The historical fiction part is really quite good; I would rate the middle section of the book a 4 star. The characters are real and the history is nice. I knew next to nothing about the Spanish civil war and besides getting a good history lesson, I liked the story. The modern framework, however is a 2 star. The characters are shells and the story is silly. Who cares about Sonia and ...more
There are lots of things to like about this book, and yet I can only give it three stars because it just didn't quite grip me. "The Return" is not one of those books that you "just can't put down" --- I actually had to make myself pick it up and keep reading most of the time.

And yet --- this is not a bad book. The style of writing is good, and the characters are interesting. A few years ago I spent 2 weeks in Granada, so I could really see the streets and Plazas of the city - as well as the
Sep 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Sonia married to an older man, James, is bored with her routine married life. Trapped in a loveless marriage, she finds an escape in the weekly salsa class. She enjoys dancing and looks forward to the class much to chagrin of her husband. She levels up and is soon joined by her best friend, Maggie.

Maggie has a brilliant idea. To celebrate her upcoming 35th birthday in Spain and joining a local dance class.

Maggie and Sonia both go to Granada, while Maggie is exhilarated with the dancing and
Sep 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hislop just writes about history with such authenticity, such authority and at times, such sadness that you can’t help but be brought in. She brings everything that I loved about The Island, her first novel, and transplanted it into a devastating story set during Spain’s Civil War.

A family saga that is about a family slowly being ripped apart is compulsively readable, despite its subject matter. What makes the whole thing work is that although the reader gets a broad overview of the conflict,
Melanie Glass
Feb 02, 2019 rated it liked it
This was the choice of one of our book group members and so felt the need to finish reading it even if, at times, I wanted to give up. The writing was all a bit too melodramatic and gushing for me - the author seems to enjoy over describing everything rather than simply just providing the story.
However, learning more about the actual history of Spain in the 20th century was informative and so that slightly redeemed the book for me.
Bridget Arnold
Apr 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Well worth 5 stars. A fantastic way to learn history, although very sad that none of the tragedy that surrounds the story of the main character is needed to be over-dramatised.

Great story, well told.
Mary Evans
Feb 03, 2019 rated it liked it
It was an interesting read as I knew next to nothing about the Spanish Civil War. However, I did feel that the book was overlong and I skipped quite a few pages. Still feel her best was The Island, which was brilliant.
Oct 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
The first part of the book is very lovely and is about dancing. Especially, the flamenco. After that 2/3 of the book is about a more serious subject, the civil war in Spain. I hardly knew a thing about that subject, and thought this was very interesting.
Oct 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After reading The Island by Victoria Hislop, which I loved, I had very high expectations. This story was amazing and wonderfully written, it's a fact based story about war (not a true story but inspired by actual events). It was tragic but beautiful.
Siddhant Nath
Feb 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
There's a certain trepidation that accompanies the cynical man as he reads an account of love. He wants to enjoy it but every fiber of his being screams of such a tale being impossible and far fetched. No matter how real the premise or how stark the depiction, reading love stories is never easy for him. He feels disconnected and even bored, the quality of the story notwithstanding. Every love story, thus, is viewed by him as cliche ridden and familiar, like reading a newspaper article whose ...more
Dec 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The first part of this novel certainly does not prepare you for the later intensity as suddenly the story takes on a complete change of tone and direction when we are transported back to the Granada of the nineteen thirties. It is a gentle start as this first part is set mainly in modern day Granada with Sonia and Maggie. Two fans of salsa from the UK where they take regular classes, the young women spend a few days in Granada taking dance lessons as a birthday treat for one of them. While there ...more
The Return is a beautiful novel of the Spanish Civil War, infused with dance and relationships, the sound of castanets and guitar contrasted with gunfire and screams. As with her previous novel, The Island, Victoria Hislop surrounds the story with a tale of modern womanhood in search of identity. This time a woman is questioning her marriage, finding unexpected solace in dance classes, and wondering at the incongruity of an independent woman enjoying the apparent subservience of being “led” ...more
Jan 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
I finished reading this book a couple of days ago and I'm glad that I am writing the review now and not then. This is because I haven't stopped thinking about it which means it has had a big impact on me, which has surprised me! I really wanted to like this book but found myself becoming bored and listless with it. I didn't warm to the main character in the present Sonia at all and part one centred around her and her need to dance. The dance sequences went into a great deal of detail which didnt ...more
Oct 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Sonia visits Granada to celebrate a friend's birthday with a dance class. Unfamiliar with the city's past and the brutality under Franco's regime, a chance encounter at a neighborhood cafe introduces Sonia to the brave and complex story of the Rodriguez family's suffering and survival through the Spanish civil war.

Seventy years earlier, Concha and Pablo owned and managed the same cafe with no notion of the danger and pain that would soon visit their family. Their eldest son, Antonio, is
Nov 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
I read most of this book on Remembrance Day so that sadness of the day was magnified by the book which takes place during the Civil War in Spain just prior to WWII. Over half a million people died in that war alone and thousands and thousands suffered so terribly under the Franco regime. As I settled down to sleep in my comfortable bed in my warm house, I tried to imagine the horror of being among the refugees leaving their devastated homes with just what they could carry, no food and children ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Kimlandia : Silminnäkijänä Pohjois-Korean kulisseissa
  • The Kashmir Shawl
  • From Barcelona, with Love (Mac Reilly #4)
  • Sea of Lost Love
  • Guernica
  • Η αγάπη άργησε μια μέρα
  • Between the Orange Groves
  • Winter in Madrid
  • Οι μάγισσες της Σμύρνης
  • Cymanowski Młyn
  • The Temptation of Gracie
  • Corelli's Mandolin
  • The French Gardener
  • Oystercatchers
  • Architects Of Poverty
  • Vi som elsket Afrika
  • King Leopold's Ghost
  • The Green Paradox: A Supply-Side Approach to Global Warming
See similar books…
Victoria Hislop read English at Oxford, and worked in publishing, PR and as a journalist before becoming a novelist. She is married with two children.

Her first novel, The Island, held the number one slot in the Sunday Times paperback charts for eight consecutive weeks and has sold over two million copies worldwide. Victoria was the Newcomer of the Year at the Galaxy British Book Awards 2007 and
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“They wound their way through a labyrinth of streets, partly following their noses, partly the orientation of the map. Jardines, Mirasol, Cruz, Puentezuelas, Capuchinas...
Each word held its magic. They were like brushstrokes painting the landscape of the city, each one helping to build up a picture of the whole.”
“Dance halls were where young men and women conducted their courtships, and most had one clear objective: to find a spouse. Mercedes was an exception. The last thing on her mind was to find a soulmate.... When she went out on a Friday and Saturday night she had no desire for anything beyond the life-enhancing thrill of the dance.” 3 likes
More quotes…