Maria Duenas – The Time in Between (2011)

TheTimeinBetweenThis book falls somewhere in between for me. I didn’t hate it, but I wasn’t dying to pick up and read it either. It wasn’t compelling for me, although some will probably disagree.

The Time in Between follows, Sira a quaint Spanish dressmaker who gets caught up, first with a conman, and then in the word of high espionage, in the years leading up to the Second World War. Sira travels from Madrid, to Spanish Morocco, to Lisbon, and then back again all while never sure of whom she is. Throughout the novel Sira struggles with her own identity, first as a shy seamstress working with her mother in a workshop, then as “fallen women” considered to be a criminal, working a dressmaker to pay off the debts incurred by her conman lover. She amasses some important clientele and fashions herself as a high class courtier catering to the wives of important government officials when the English secret service decides to make use of her talents and insider connections.

Duenas paints beautiful scenes of Spanish Morocco and Tangiers during the 1930s, but I’m afraid that something has been lost in translation. Because the book is originally written in Spanish, I fear that some of it’s magic may have been lost in the English version. Translating a book is a difficult thing to accomplish, and something that it is almost impossible to perfect. Still the book moves at a good pace and was a pleasant read, although not a terribly thrilling one.

I did not realize the book was based on real characters until reading the authors note at the end. It changed the book for me a bit and I wish I had done a bit more research before reading. I still might go back and read it again if I have the time.

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