Thus far in this book blog’s journey, I think that The Time in Between by María Dueñas has arguably been my favorite book! And no, it’s not just because the main character is basically what seven-year-old me wanted to be when I grew up.
This novel follows the life of Sira Quiroga as she evolves from young, naïve dress apprentice to fully fledged, semi-famous dress maker/spy. It takes place from the 1930-40s, so it encapsulates the Spanish Civil War as well as the beginning of WW2. Additionally, the story spans Spain, Morocco, and Portugal. So any history/travel buff will probably enjoy those aspects of the book.
As for me, somewhat unsurprisingly if you’ve read some of my other blogs, I loved the characters most in this book. I’ll admit that I was fairly annoyed by Sira’s initial naïveté, but Dueñas takes her and totally develops her by the end. She becomes more refined, more independent, and more likable. I totally understand that some of this is due to the fact that Sira is in her early 20’s and very sheltered at the beginning of the story, and is much more worldly (and almost 30) by the end of the novel–so, I think that this character arc is not only a relief, but it’s also believable.
Like some of the other books I’ve written about, (see my post on Fitzgerald or the Boelyns) Dueñas takes historical fact and marries it with her beautifully and thoroughly researched fiction. Take, for example the characters of Rosalinda Fox and Juan Luis Beigbeder–I had never heard of either of them before reading this book, but they were very real, important and prominent figures at this time. I’ll be sure to research them a little more in depth after I post this, but I don’t think any online biography or Wiki page will quite give them the same roundness as Dueñas does.
I can’t think of any real “complaints” I had with this book. As mentioned before, I was a little dismayed when I initially didn’t care for the protagonist Sira, but I soon grew to love her. The plot is well developed, even across time and continent; the characters are well developed; and overall, it was a fun and exciting read for me. It has action and espionage for those who love to be thrilled; it has heartbreak and romance for the more sentimental readers. Essentially, even if you don’t like the whole book as much as I do, you’re sure to find something that you’ll like during this read.