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.
An outstanding success around the world, The Time in Between has sold more than two million copies and inspired the Spanish television series based on the book, dubbed by the media as the “Spanish Downton Abbey.” In the US it was a critical and commercial hit, and a New York Times bestseller in paperback. It 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.
Due as's wonderful debut (a runaway bestseller in her native Spain) opens during the mid-1930s as Spain is on the brink of civil war and young Sira Quiroga is preparing a simple wedding in Madrid, where she lives. Sira's plans are thrown off track when she meets Ramiro Arribas, the cunning older manager of a typewriter shop who convinces her to embark on an exotic life in Morocco. The future that he envisions for her differs from what he imagines for himself, however, and he abandons Sira after pilfering her inheritance and leaving her saddled with debt. Newly adrift, Sira travels to northern Morocco, where she is reluctantly taken in by Candeleria, a disreputable woman known for housing dispossessed souls. In Candeleria's care, Sira returns to her roots as a dressmaker's apprentice. Realizing her talent with a needle and thread, Candeleria takes advantage, quietly financing Sira's efforts and taking half the profits. As WWII looms, an influential client implores Sira to make a dangerous return to Madrid and set up shop there, adding another level of difficulty and peril to her journey. This thrilling debut is marked by immaculate prose and a driving narrative, establishing Due as as a writer to watch.
I’ve reread this book several times. So well written! And the story is absolutely enthralling. Each time I’m sorry to reach the end.
Bothersome chapter endings
Duenas is definitely an engaging storyteller, but I became bothered by her predictable chapter conclusions. I don't think this is a spoiler alert but to cover myself, I'll state it could be. As you proceed, you'll notice she has a pattern of setting up the chapter to follow with "stay tuned" kind of language (what I term it) - using statements like "And from then on, the situation changed radically, for everyone.". Like oh my!! That going to commercial terminology to keep you to the next part. Don't set me up. Surprise me in the chapter with what's happening as it is happening.
Too much distance. I would have liked a more personal diary account instead of just everything feeling very third person.
I hate chapter conclusions set up. I felt like I knew where it was going all along and a captive reader may lose interest in the writing style and start to notice the page count at this point. It could drag. Sira is cute, the relationship with Agent Logan nothing spectacular, and the conclusion rather Disney, if I had to be honest. Still, you can tell the author did her homework. I'm not a history buff nor do I take to war (too long spent with a war buff) but I liked the intricacies to an extent. Just so so overall. 3/5
The Time in Between
Okay. I really saw this story as a romance novel couched in an historical setting. The 1st person narrative lacked depth. It was an enjoyable read in spite of its shortcomings.