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Winter in Madrid

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  12,386 ratings  ·  1,140 reviews
Fans of Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s The Shadow of the Wind and Sebastian Faulks’s Birdsong will fall in love with Winter in Madrid, the arresting new novel from C.J. Sansom. In September 1940, the Spanish Civil War is over and Madrid lies in ruins while the Germans continue their march through Europe. Britain stands alone as General Franco considers whether to abandon neutrality a ...more
Paperback, 549 pages
Published October 1st 2006 by Pan Books (UK) (first published January 1st 2006)
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3.81  · 
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 ·  12,386 ratings  ·  1,140 reviews

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Julie Christine
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
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: yeartoclear
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
An outstanding historical novel. The period in history chosen by the author had a lot of narrative possibilities to deliver and he squeezed each and everyone of the them.
CJ Sansom sets the story in 1940's Madrid, period in which Spain was going through a Civil War and hesitating about entering WWII. As in every international dilemma there are foreign stakes in the game, this book narrates some of Britain's interests in a conflicted Spain. Being the main characters British nationals and of diver
Feb 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an exceptional, remarkable and frantic ride trough the Spanish civil war embedded with a dramatic and beautiful developed love story!!!
Three young man: Sandy Forsyth entrepreneur and survivor after having went trough a tattered childhood and broken family;
Bernie a communist and born fighter, the arch-enemy of the fascists;
Henry the British soldier, injured and humiliated at Dunkirk searching for revenge and compensations;
Each of them intertwined trough the love for one woman: Barbara!!

May 10, 2011 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
May 21, 2016 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.
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
Jul 18, 2008 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
Sep 20, 2014 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 use
Mar 01, 2009 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
Lance Greenfield
Oct 09, 2009 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
Oct 23, 2015 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
Apr 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Mr. Sansom develops an excellent story in a location that is often forgotten about in the World War II era - post-Civil War Spain. There are not too many characters to keep track of, and flashbacks provide deep, if somewhat rushed, explanations for events that continue to mold the story. The biggest fault is the end which feels rushed and takes some unnecessary events. Character closure is also not addressed. Overall, a great book to read that keeps you on your toes in a new, dark environment an ...more
Jul 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
Better known for his Shardlake series, which i probably won't get into, Winter in Madrid sees C.J. Sansom dabbling in post-Civil-War Spain during World War II. Injured Dunkirk veteran Harry Brett is hired by the British government to spy on his old school pal Sandy Forsyth who is now living in Spain and is involved in the shady world of gold mining. Harry's mission is to uncover Sandy's intentions and where his loyalties lie. The secondary plot involves Sandy's wife, Barbara, attempting to locat ...more
Jessica Howard
Mar 11, 2008 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
Feb 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-read-2014
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
220513: this is a difficult book to rate, as the era, the place, the ideologies, all interest me- but the long, long, narrative less so. some reviews mention Hemingway, but find Sansom's style almost exactly opposite, wordy, sentimental, cliche, only similar in that it is set in Spain at this time...

there are several embedded stories, which could have made individually involving narratives, and perhaps it is only my bias towards complex characters, surprising plot, but as read in two sittings it
Matt Weir
Dec 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is one of those books that makes you sit back and think, "Yeah, historical fiction can be done really well sometimes."
I'll be honest, I'm not a fan of a lot of mainstream historical fiction. Poldark or Sharpe can go do one; Conn Iggulden and Bernard Cornwell feel like they're aimed at men twenty years my senior and Alison Weir and Philipa Gregory are books i try to read but hand off onto my mother.

So it really takes something special, well-written, well-researched and seemingly of it's time
Read all my reviews on

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
Susan Johnson
Jun 17, 2012 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
Stephanie Anze
May 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Harry Brett is a former soldier turned languages specialist at Cambridge. When approached by government officials and asked to travel to Spain and become a spy for the British, he is hesistant. His target is Sandy Forsyth, a former classmate turned shady businessman in Madrid. Harry is to infiltrate Sandy's inner circle and find out about his (probably dirty) business dealings. Unbeknownst to Harry, Sandy is currentlly living with Barbara Clare, a British nurse whose previous boyfriend was Berni ...more
Adrian White
Aug 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Three, maybe four stars. Given the length, not that much happens really. I know this has been a great success over the years and my Mum loved it - hence my getting to read it and sticking with it to the end - but I wasn't so gobsmacked by the historical background, nor as taken with the characters. Not that I'm going to say as much to my Mum, mind.
Mar 12, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommended to Lee by: Bettie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 20, 2008 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
Apr 14, 2009 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
Nov 18, 2010 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
Jul 14, 2013 rated it liked it
Spoiler alert: do not Google General Maestre before you finish reading this book as it brings up a synopsis of the storyline. As always, I enjoyed learning about a period of history I didn't know enough about. At times, however, this book reads like a propaganda film, or the script of a 1940s movie. Neither is a problem in itself but I felt it descended into melodrama at times and many scenes felt contrived as the author tried to set a historical scene. Perhaps this is why I'm not a fan of histo ...more
Huw Evans
Sep 18, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction, history
Being a big fan of Sansom's Shardlake series this was nothing but a disappointment. The characters are disinteresting, the plot unrealisitic and there is a major spoiler within the first third of the book. I read it through to the end, out of duty and hope rather than curiosity, and would not recommend it to anybody.
Lewis Weinstein
Dec 31, 2009 rated it really liked it
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.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Barrios De Madrid: Landscape Of A Beautiful City 1 4 Jan 20, 2019 08:19PM  
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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
“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” 6 likes
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