Friday, October 19, 2012
The Time In Between by Maria Duenas - Review
About the Book:
The inspiring international bestseller of a seemingly ordinary woman who uses her talent and courage to transform herself first into a prestigious couturier and then into an undercover agent for the Allies during World War II
Between Youth and Adulthood . . .
At age twelve, Sira Quiroga sweeps the atelier floors where her single mother works as a seamstress. At fourteen, she quietly begins her own apprenticeship. By her early twenties she has learned the ropes of the business and is engaged to a modest government clerk. But everything changes when two charismatic men burst unexpectedly into her neatly mapped-out life: an attractive salesman and the father she never knew.
Between War and Peace . . .
With the Spanish Civil War brewing in Madrid, Sira leaves her mother and her fiancé, impetuously following her handsome lover to Morocco. However, she soon finds herself abandoned, penniless, and heartbroken in an exotic land. Among the odd collection of European expatriates trapped there by the worsening political situation back on the Continent, Sira reinvents herself by turning to the one skill that can save her: her gift for creating beautiful clothes.
Between Love and Duty . . .
As England, Germany, and the other great powers launch into the dire conflict of World War II, Sira is persuaded to return to Madrid, where she takes on a new identity to embark upon the most dangerous undertaking of her career. As the preeminent couturier for an eager clientele of Nazi officers’ wives, Sira becomes embroiled in the half-lit world of espionage and political conspiracy rife with love, intrigue, and betrayal.
Already a runaway bestseller across Europe, The Time In Between is one of those rare, richly textured novels that enthrall down to the last page. María Dueñas reminds us how it feels to be swept away by a masterful storyteller.
About the Author:
Maria Dueñas holds a PhD in English Philology and is currently a professor at the University of Murcia. She has also taught at American universities, is the author of several academic articles, and has participated in various educational, cultural, and editorial projects. She is currently writing her second novel
This is a doorstop of a book - just the kind I love to sink into and read on a rainy day. That it's historical fiction made it all the better. That it was a period in history about which I know very little made it even better still. It wasn't perfect but it was a very good read.
At the start the reader is introduced to the heroine, Sira, the daughter of a love match between a woman who is now a seamstress and a man who remains unidentified until later in the book. Sira learns her mother's trade and shows an aptitude for sewing that by all indications will surpass her mother's. She finds love and is about to be married when she falls into the clutches of a slimy ne'er do well who promises her the world but ultimately leaves her alone and without her money. The money? Well, her father re-appears and provides for her as he fears that the continuing political situation in Spain will lead to his death.
The background of the book is the Spanish Civil War and WWII. Sira, after having left Spain due to the advice of her father is in Morocco and this is where she finds herself after the slime ball abandons her. This is where she finds herself and this (about a third to a halfway through the book) is where it really picks up!
Sira ends up working as a spy for the British Foreign Service and the book finds its excitement as she tries to stay one step ahead.
The book was overall, very good. It was a bit slow at the start and it was very hard to like Sira in the beginning as she was so overwhelmingly self-centered and blindingly stupid but I suppose that she was young and thought she was in love and that leads to stupid at times. She is just the kind of girl that a certain type of man will prey upon and Ms. Duenas shows exactly how it is done in her writing. There was just a bit too much of it. I think the book could have been shorter and had more impact. It was translated from Spanish and there might have been some colloquialisms that did not translate well but I DID enjoy the book.
The characters were great from the main to the ancillary and they were of all different types so it made reading very interesting. The history was well woven into the story and it piqued my curiosity enough in certain points to send me researching further. At times it got a bit wordy but not enough to detract from the overall enjoyment of the book, at least not for me. It does seem as if it left room for a sequel which I would read if that was indeed the case.
You can purchase The Time In Between at Amazon.com
Disclosure: I was sent a copy of The Time In Between by the publisher gratis. Any opinions expressed are my honest opinions and were not impacted by my receipt of the free book. I received no monetary compensation for this post.