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The Time in Between
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August 2018: Espionage > The Time In Between / María Dueñas – 4****

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Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 6406 comments The Time in Between by María Dueñas
The Time In Between – María Dueñas
4****

A sweeping historical novel featuring the young Sira Quiroga, who begins by cleaning the floors of the atelier where her mother is a seamstress and ends up as a sought-after fashion designer in World War II. Using her skills as a dressmaker to connect with the high society ladies, she ferrets out Nazi secrets and passes that information on to the British via Morse code embedded in dress patterns.

Wow … what a fascinating and engaging read. This is Dueñas’s debut work, but it sure reads like the work of an accomplished storyteller. The novel starts off slowly and I was pretty disappointed in the young Sira and the poor choices she made with respect to men. But once she was forced to make her own way (abandoned and penniless in Morocco of all places), the story really picked up.

I loved the way that she grew as a character, coming into her own while carefully observing and learning from her friends, neighbors and clients. Her relationships are wonderfully complex – from the police inspector, to her landlady, to her neighbor and friend, Felix, to the glamorous Rosalinda Fox, and her stoic mother.

I’ve read many novels set in WW2 but only one previous one set in Spain (Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls). What sets this apart is that is mostly deals with the “women left behind.” The ways in which women and men who were not at the forefront of the fighting dealt with the ramifications of the wars, both the Spanish Civil War and WW2. Dueñas fills the novel with details of life “at home” during this time frame: in Madrid, Morocco and Lisbon. The shortages, the black market, the unusual alliances.

Of course, there are real-life people in the book; you cannot set a novel at this place and during this time frame and completely avoid mentioning Hitler or Franco. But I was surprised to discover that Rosalinda Fox was a real woman. Sira is a totally fictitious character, but Dueñas inserts her into the history of the time in a way that is believable.

I understand that there is a Spanish telenovela (soap opera / mini-series) available on Netflix (with subtitles). One of my friends commented that she was hooked on it and loved the ending when Sira (view spoiler). Once I told her that the soap opera ending is barely at the half-way point in the novel, she set out to get the book.

I recommend this to anyone who loves a fast-paced novel, with fascinating characters, and a strong female lead. The final scene when she decides to take matters into her own hands and go forward on her own terms is marvelous. I wanted to stand up and cheer!



LINK to my review


message 2: by KateNZ (new) - added it

KateNZ | 2671 comments Added, with thanks!


message 3: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy | 9372 comments I added this to my TBR too. Next time we have an espionage thread or earlier.


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Great review. I have not read any WWII books set in Spain. I'll add this to my every growing TBR because it sounds so interesting.


Magdalena | 414 comments I just finished this last night! I really enjoyed it and was planning on giving it four stars as well. Amazing review, I absolutely could not have said any of it better myself.


message 6: by Booknblues (new) - added it

Booknblues | 6886 comments You sold me, I need to read this.


Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 6406 comments Amy wrote: "I added this to my TBR too. Next time we have an espionage thread or earlier."

It would fit the following tags:
Historical fiction
War
WWII
thriller
friendship
Africa (about half of it takes place in Morocco)

I'm sure there are more ...


message 8: by Jeremiah (new)

Jeremiah Cunningham | 717 comments This is a great review and I am really tempted to add the book to my TBR. However, I really hate reading about WW2. Is there a lot about the war in the book? I am just not sure I can overcome that content.


Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 6406 comments J.W. wrote: "This is a great review and I am really tempted to add the book to my TBR. However, I really hate reading about WW2. Is there a lot about the war in the book? I am just not sure I can overcome that ..."

It is NOT set in a war zone.


message 10: by Joanne (new)

Joanne (joabroda1) | 8431 comments Great review...another one on to the list of TBR


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