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The time in between : a novel
Maria Duenas
Adult Fiction DUENAS

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Duenas'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 Duenas as a writer to watch. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

Sira Quiroga begins life as the bastard daughter of a humble seamstress in Madrid, but bad luck, fate, and the crooked path -toward true love all lead her to a life of dizzying glamour, adventure, and high-stakes espionage. When young Sira is abandoned by her lover in Morocco, she is forced to reinvent herself as a sophisticated dressmaker to the expatriate community while the Spanish civil war devastates her homeland. Her work brings her into contact with powerful men, compelling women, and a man she believes to be a journalist and perhaps the love of her life. When the British government asks her to return to Madrid to spy for them as World War II sweeps Europe, she reluctantly agrees, but in doing so becomes a heroine. The first-person perspective makes this long novel seem short, and the rich narrative includes many important figures and incidents from history. Does the story topple into melodrama from time to time? Sure. Does the ending leave you wanting more? Perhaps. Nonetheless, this Spanish import is so romantic, so grand, and so terrifically engrossing that readers will forgive and forget. VERDICT It is no surprise this debut novel was a runaway success in Europe. American fans of historical fiction looking for a dramatic, uncomplicated escape will be similarly entranced. [See Prepub Alert, 5/22/11.]-Chelsey Philpot, School Library Journal (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Sira Quiroga
Mother is a seamstress who raised her on her own; began her own seamstress apprenticeship at 14; learned the ropes by her early twenties; engaged to a modest government clerk; the father she never knew comes into her life; left behind her mother and fiance behind in Madrid and followed her lover to Morocco; found herself penniless, abandoned, and heartbroken; turned to her gift of creating beautiful clothes; returns to Madrid with a new identity as the couturier for Nazi officers' wives.

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