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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

"The Time In Between" by Maria Duenas~ Luminous and Exotic

Published by:  Atria Books/Simon and Schuster
Pages:  624
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction, Women's Fiction
Release Date:  November 8, 2011


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.
About The Author:  Ms Duenas has a PhD in English Philology and has taught at several American universities. 

“Maria DueÑas is a true storyteller. She weaves a spell, conjuring the heat and the glamour, the hardship and the thrill of Morocco and Spain in the late 1930s. The world of Casablanca comes to life as war breaks and Sira Quiroga, a beautiful and betrayed seamstress, is forced to discover her own strength. At a time when everyone must do what they can to survive, some will go beyond. Resistance will be formed and history will be written. Read this book and prepare to be transported.” –Kate Morton, New York Times bestselling author of The Distant Hours

The Bookish Dame's Review:

What is it about the Spanish author that takes me up in just a word and captures me like a moth to a flame?  I can hear the storyteller's voice. I am in her very presence. I am sitting in a comfortable chair beside her while she tells the story.  I can see every detail she describes and I adore the descriptions. I'm just completely at her mercy.  This is the story of "The Time In Between."  This novel is so like having Meryl Streep read "Out of Africa" to you.  I felt exactly that way...

Maria Duenas's novel is translated for us into English.  And, since it is a translation, I can only imagine how glorious it must be in Spanish.  She has an amazing gift of words.  Her use of description is fascinating and so near perfection that fabrics, for instance, are almost tangible.  As a needlewoman, I was grappling, wanting to touch the silks, Chantilly lace, crepe de chine, georgette and embroideries she writes about.  It's wonderful to hear about the fashions Sira experiences, designs and sews through the years as she supports herself as a seamstress. To read how she's saved in her intrigues and safe-harbored by her couture-making is so awe-inspiring to someone who loves fabrics.

Ms Duenas described falling into a blind-mad love with the wrong man so perfectly that I know only one who's been there could know that kind of psychosis!  It was unbelievably beautiful.  A psychiatrist friend of mine once said that love should be called a psychotic episode because it is a chemical insanity/madness.  I thought Duenas caught that obsession with the way she walked us through Sira's reactions. To read it is to be made dizzy by her writing and to recall that punch-to-the-gut passion.

The legends and the history of the early 1900's and WWII are not heavy and boring in this novel, but are beautifully rendered.  There are interesting details, fascinating people imagined, music, theatre and art.  Cultures are wonderfully drawn for the reader, and characters are given well-rounded insights to enrich Duenas's story. Social uprisings are strangely similar to our own today, interestingly enough.  Nazi Germany is given another view from Ms Duenas's characters as they spy and work for the Resistance. All of this contributes to this compelling read.

"The Time In Between" is a book I will be keeping in my library. I hope my grandchildren will read it one day.  It's a beautifully written novel with a story we should never forget.  I'm going to put it next to my "The Winds of War" by Herman Wouk.

5 shining stars




I've seen this book in a few places now and it does sound wonderful. I'm glad to hear it's such a good book.

Teresa Cypher

Five shining stars...I will be checking it out, Deborah :-)

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