Friday, November 4, 2011

Review: The Time In Between by Maria Duenas

Publisher: Atria books, 2011
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: NetGalley

The inspiring story of a seemingly ordinary woman who uses her talent and courage to transform herself into a prestigious couturier and then into an undercover agent for the Allies during WWII.

Synopsis: Raised in Madrid, young Sira Quiroga begins her apprenticeship as a seamstress at fourteen and by her early twenties is skilled in her trade and engaged to be married to a nice young man. But everything changes when two charismatic men burst unexpectedly into her neatly mapped-out life: an attractive salesman and the father she has never known.
With the Spanish Civil War brewing in Madrid, Sira leaves her mother and fiance and travels with her lover to Morocco. Very soon she finds herself abandoned, penniless and heartbroken in a foreign land where she knows she has only one skill that will save her: her gift for creating beautiful clothes.
As a couturier for a clientele of Nazi officer's wives, eventually she becomes embroiled in the half-lit world of espionage and political intrigue.

My thoughts: I have mixed feelings about The Time In Between : one of those books you both like and dislike!

I loved the time and places the book is set in - 1930's Madrid and Morocco. Being woefully ignorant of Spain's presence in Morocco and with only a basic understanding of the Spanish Civil War I found the history fascinating especially seeing the events of this era from a Spanish perspective. Nor had I ever given any thought to Spain's role during WWII and the attempts by both the Allies and the Germans to ensure that this small country, devastated by it's own war, joined their side.
That there are many real life people in the story was something else I liked and set my fingers googling to find out more. Rosalinda Fox was one of my favourite characters and it wasn't until after I'd finished reading that I realised she actually existed - what a captivating woman she must have been.

The story is narrated by Sira and this is what didn't work for me. I don't mind not liking the 'heroine' in a story but , good or bad, I want to be able to connect with her. I didn't like Sira and felt about her much as Ignacio  , her abandoned fiance who she meets again several years on and he says...
"You don't care about anyone but yourself, Sira. It's all about me,, me me."
What I didn't care for was the way she keeps the reader at a distance . Her story becomes an account of her life rather than invitation to share her experiences and her feelings and in such a long book it's inevitable the reader is going to lose interest. I did like many of the secondary fictional characters and would have enjoyed more of their presence particularly as most of them played a significant role in helping Sira to success.

Overall, I enjoyed it but thought it lacked the passion and intensity that would have made it great.

1 comment:

  1. I have this book to read, though it's so large that I'm a bit daunted by it. Also, it is sad to me that after so many pages, you still felt so apart from the story!