My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Goodreads: The Time In Between is a word-of-mouth phenomenon that catapulted María Dueñas, a debut author, to the top of Spain’s bestseller lists.
This sweeping novel, which combines the storytelling power of The Shadow of the Wind with the irresistible romance of Casablanca, moves at an unstoppable pace. Suddenly left abandoned and penniless in Algiers by her lover, Sira Quiroga forges a new identity. Against all odds she becomes the most sought-after couture designer for the socialite wives of German Nazi officers. But she is soon embroiled in a dangerous political conspiracy as she passes information to the British Secret Service through a code stitched into the hems of her dresses.
Goodreads: I love a good historical novel. This one has elements I am familiar with; Germans and Nazis, mixed with elements I knew little about - the Spanish Civil War, the leadership bought by the Nazis and how the Allies dealt with attempts to keep Spain out of WWII.
There are four parts to the book but all are told by Sira's perspective. Sira is a humble seamstress in Madrid, helping in the shop where her mother works. She learns skills, is promoted, meets a nice boy, gets engaged then runs off with another man who is not a good man and leaves her to fend for herself. This part is setting the stage for what Sira does next and explains her reasons for not seeking romantic involvement, and explains how she winds up in Morocco.
Meanwhile, back in Spain, a horrendous war is raging between two factions. One political party has the money and support of the Nazi party, which I was unaware. When the war ends and the dust settles, the citizens of Spain are war weary, hungry, and desperate. The political history of this part of Spain was new information to me. I had a difficult time keeping all the characters and their affiliations straight but this is key to Sira's endeavors.
The author uses actual people who were instrumental to the rebuilding of Spain after this war and the beginning of WWII. Sira opens a dress shop and becomes good friends with Mrs. Rosalinda Fox, the mistress of a high ranking political figure in Spain. She rubs shoulders with Franco and his brother-in-law, overhears conversations not meant for her ears and eventually this comes in handy.
It is an interesting book because it is so well researched and includes information on the role of Spain and the political pulse at the time of Hitler's rise. It is also quite human in that Sira comes alive within the pages of the story and her struggles with her own identity are realistic. The characters from both Morocco and Madrid are well developed and entertaining (Candeleria and Felix).
Good, educational, and solid writing.