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April 2019: History > The Time In Between by Maria Duenas- 5 Brilliant Stars (Horizons, Spain)

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message 1: by Hayjay315 (new)

Hayjay315 | 197 comments This is a cross-post from the Horizons April reporting.

Culture: Spain

Closing a book with a satisfied smile and an air of melancholy the story is done is one of my favorite experiences as a reader. The Time in Betweenby Maria Duenas delivered this and so much more!

This is a captivating novel that packs history, romance and espionage in to a story of a woman learning to blossom and find her courage and voice.

The book opens at the onset of the Spanish Civil War where our heroine Sira Quiroga grows up in poverty while learning the trade of being a seamstress from her mother who is employed at a dressmakers shop in Madrid. In the midst of the growing political turmoil of the Republicans and Nationalists she meets a local young man named Ignacio with political aspirations and chooses to settle for him to escape the harsh working life of her mother. She has a chance encounter with suave business owner Ramiro; and lured by his glamorous life she leaves behind everything she knows to follow him to Morocco. It is here that his true nature reveals itself and she is left penniless and pregnant to deal with his outstanding bills.

Unable to leave the country until her debs are paid she moves out of the hotel and in to a boarding house run by the street-smart Candelaria. When her talent for sewing is discovered Candelaria assists her in setting up her own atelier. With the Spanish Civil War fully raging and the early events of World War II looming on the horizon she begins to interact with the wide range of nationalities converging in Morocco. Amongst them are the wives of leading German, Italian and Spanish businessmen and political figures. Also included in her circle of loyal customers is Rosalinda Fox; main consort of Colonel Beigbeder who will eventually enjoy a brief stint as Foreign Affairs minister for the Nationalists who emerged victorious at the end of the Spanish Civil War.

Sira develops a close friendship with Rosalinda and when she discovers Sira’s desperation to remove her mother from war-torn Madrid offers to utilize her British contacts to determine if anything can be done. Sira is eventually connected to Marcus Logan; a journalist with British connections who agrees to help. As she works with him to free her mother she finds herself reluctantly falling for him. Before anything can escalate further he disappears as more pressure is put on the government of Spain by Germany to enter World War II on their side and cut ties with the British and Americans. Anyone who is viewed as having British/American ties or sympathies is placed under suspect and targeted and Rosalinda has to flee for her safety while Beigbeder is kicked out of the government after his highly public friendship with Ambassador Hoare. During these tenuous times MI6 decides to create a coalition of agents known as the Special Operations Executive to obtain information on the movements and social/business meetings of Germans in Spain. Rosalinda recommends Sira who reluctantly agrees and opens a second atelier in Madrid out of which she hides messages in code transcribed on patterns for clothing.

What follows is her exhilarating journey in to the life of an agent of espionage for British intelligence. Of equal importance is her momentous journey in to herself as she heals old wounds and discovers how strong her capacity and capabilities are.

With a fascinating set of supporting characters, the moving prose of a masterful storyteller and powerful and meticulously researched historical detail I can say without a doubt this book is making it in to my top 10 reads of the year!

message 2: by Joanne (new)

Joanne (joabroda1) | 7105 comments I have this on my shelf-thank you for the great review!

message 3: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8146 comments I commented on the horizon’s thread, but I am very excited about this book. My only problem is that by the end of April I already have more than 15 contenders for the top 10 of 2019. I almost can’t afford any more five star reviews. But that’s what I keep getting when you guys all recommend such wonderful books!

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