by María Dueñas
translated by Daniel Hahn
I saw this at Indextrious Reader, and wondered immediately if my nearly-fifteen-year-old would like it. It has a lot of elements my teenager enjoys in books: romance, a bit of drama, intrigue and spying. This is a war story, set during the Spanish Civil War. The main character, a young seamstress-in-training named Sira, flees the turbulence in Madrid and goes to Morocco with her fianceé. Where she gets unexpectedly stranded, betrayed and burdened with a heavy debt due to someone else\’s reckless behavior. She turns to her sewing skills to get herself out of the mess, and it evolves into something else, leading to connections that get her involved in espionage.
I didn\’t quite get that far. I read about a third of it and then began skimming, loosing interest and not willing to push through six hundred-plus pages. It\’s a good story, with a strong female character who remakes her life several times over, but I just didn\’t find anything I could quite connect to. The political events all felt like flat background material and Sira\’s personality never really felt alive to me. I suppose it could be the fact that the text is translated, or it could be that it\’s just not my usual type of read, so I didn\’t find it exciting. I did, however, get enough of a feel for it to surmise there\’s nothing I\’d object to my teenager reading! although I don\’t quite know if the author\’s style will be appreciated more than I could.
Borrowed from the public library.
Abandoned 615 pages, 2009