Emma's Reviews > Winter in Madrid

Winter in Madrid by C.J. Sansom
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it was ok
bookshelves: yeartoclear

** spoiler alert ** This started off bad, got progressively worse, and finished in the most ridiculous fashion.

The most interesting part of the book is by far the background- the Spanish civil war, Franco and Falangism, fascism vs communism, the New Red State. So much so that I’m looking for something properly historical on that period.

Yet what Sansom throws into that are the most dull and stereotypical characters you can imagine- the private school facist/communist/and spy- 3 different men who went to the same school and ‘have a past’. The timid nurse turned aid worker who was bullied at school and bangs on about it for the whole book yet ends up brave enough to shoot a man, the bully General, the doomed Spanish beauty, the self effacing local doing what he must to get by... on and on and on.

The timeline was confused by unnecessary flashbacks, unnecessary scenes, and strangely unfocused conversations. All the characters speak a really stilted English which I first thought was a reflection of the social customs of the day, but it had no flow, the interactions all feeling off as a result, like they were being performed and not spoken.

Not even close to as good as the Shardlake series.
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Reading Progress

February 3, 2018 – Started Reading
February 3, 2018 – Shelved
February 3, 2018 – Shelved as: yeartoclear
February 12, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-20 of 20 (20 new)

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message 1: by Mike (new)

Mike 2 stars...oh no!!!! I had very hopes for this one. What went wrong?!?


Emma Mike wrote: "2 stars...oh no!!!! I had very hopes for this one. What went wrong?!?"

Too much, Mike, way too much 😂


message 3: by Mike (new)

Mike Wow....just saw your review now. Seems like that beautiful cover went for naught!! Thanks for an honest review, Emma.


Fiona I couldn’t agree more, Emma!


Emma Mike wrote: "Wow....just saw your review now. Seems like that beautiful cover went for naught!! Thanks for an honest review, Emma."

It was a real shame, Mike, especially as the setting was actually done really well. Maybe the research overpowered the rest?!


Emma Fiona wrote: "I couldn’t agree more, Emma!"

Just read your review and we definitely experienced this in the same way... I couldn’t wait for it to end, that’s for sure.


Katie Completely agree, Emma. I was really looking forward to this as the premise sounded really good but I found it a rambling soulless book.


Emma Katie wrote: "Completely agree, Emma. I was really looking forward to this as the premise sounded really good but I found it a rambling soulless book."

Soulless is a great word for it, there’s nothing to grab hold of- no emotion or meaning.


message 9: by Diane (new)

Diane Wallace Honest!


message 10: by Emma (new) - rated it 2 stars

Emma Diane wrote: "Honest!"

Sometimes you have to say it, Diane!!! 😀


message 11: by Andy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Andy Honest review! Must admit I kinda enjoyed it despite some of the stereotypes & pacing issues...... mind perhaps I was a tad biased as its a period I wanted to learn about & found the political side of it very good. His other standalone Dominion is more of the same & really didnt enjoy that at all again down to a plodding pace.

I do though highly recommend his Shardlake series which is superb in terms of historical content & a good mystery to boot, totally diffo to his standalones


message 12: by Emma (last edited Feb 13, 2018 06:27AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Emma Andy wrote: "Honest review! Must admit I kinda enjoyed it despite some of the stereotypes & pacing issues...... mind perhaps I was a tad biased as its a period I wanted to learn about & found the political side..."

The historical stuff is fascinating, I totally agree. Did you look at some history of the period? I could do with recommendations as I’ve never studied Spain during the civil war and really want to know more.

When I was a bookseller we sold so much of his series that I always wanted him try it, good to hear it’s worth it as I think I own at least the first two books!


message 13: by Andy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Andy Emma wrote: "Andy wrote: "Honest review! Must admit I kinda enjoyed it despite some of the stereotypes & pacing issues...... mind perhaps I was a tad biased as its a period I wanted to learn about & found the p..."

I studied at O level the period but haven't read many books on the Spanish Civil war since although watched a few films/documentaries on the subject & perhaps is why I gravitated too this one & liked it more than it should have been, hence my 5 stars I gave it :) I had also read a fair bit of the Shardlake series by then PLUG PLUG!!


message 14: by Andy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Andy Glad you got around to the Shardlake series!

Did you ever find a Spanish Civil war series? I did find one story in a series which featured in part the aftermath of the war as abackdrop for its story https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2...


message 15: by Emma (new) - rated it 2 stars

Emma Andy wrote: "Glad you got around to the Shardlake series!

Did you ever find a Spanish Civil war series? I did find one story in a series which featured in part the aftermath of the war as abackdrop for its sto..."


Yes! I'm getting through Shardlake, it's so atmospheric. And that recommendation looks great, definitely adding it. Thanks!


message 16: by Andy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Andy Yer welcome :) If you like the sound of that recom it's part of a grand little series about Ireland pre-war & during, a lot of politics around Europe & a decent mystery each time as well. Recom start with the first one so as to get a build-up of the characters.

New Shardlake coming out next month!! :) :) Already on pre-order


Veronica It was a bit disappointing, and the denouement just didn't make sense. If you're still looking for a Spanish Civil War series I can recommend Spanish writer Almudena Grandes. Unfortunately much of her work hasn't been translated into English, but The Frozen Heart has, and it's one of my favourites of hers.


message 18: by J.C. (new) - rated it 1 star

J.C. Greenway This is exactly how I felt as well - the more interesting stories of the Spanish characters were overshadowed by these English stuffed shirts, who came into the country without understanding what was going on and caused mayhem. Going to check out The Frozen Heart instead, thanks Veronica!


message 19: by Emma (new) - rated it 2 stars

Emma Veronica wrote: "It was a bit disappointing, and the denouement just didn't make sense. If you're still looking for a Spanish Civil War series I can recommend Spanish writer Almudena Grandes. Unfortunately much of ..."

I’ve added that to my list, Veronica. It does look really good!


message 20: by Emma (new) - rated it 2 stars

Emma J.C. wrote: "This is exactly how I felt as well - the more interesting stories of the Spanish characters were overshadowed by these English stuffed shirts, who came into the country without understanding what w..."

Agreed! I mean, historically it’s something the English have done in the past .. so I’ll give the author that at least, but it’s so poorly rendered here.


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