Thursday, October 8, 2009

Review - The Return by Victoria Hislop

The Return by Victoria Hislop
published 10/09
416 pages

Synopsis from publisher:

Sonia knows nothing of Granada's shocking past, but ordering a simple cup of coffee in a quiet café will lead her into the extraordinary tale of a family's fight to survive the horror of the Spanish Civil War.

Seventy years earlier, in the Ramírez family's café, Concha and Pablo's children relish an atmosphere of hope. Antonio is a serious young teacher, Ignacio a flamboyant matador, and Emilio a skilled musician. Their sister, Mercedes, is a spirited girl whose sole passion is dancing, until she meets Javier and an obsessive love affair begins. But Spain is a country in turmoil. In the heat of civil war, everyone must take a side and choose whether to submit, to fight, or to attempt escape.

My thoughts:

This was an interesting novel. It is very much two stories - Sonia and her journey to Spain, propelled by her love of dance; and Mercedes and her family, trying to survive through the horrors of the Spanish Civil War. I had somewhat different reactions to the two stories, so that will make this review somewhat mixed.

I really didn't connect with Sonia's story. Her friend, Maggie, mostly just irritated me - she seemed so very self-centered and shallow. Sonia herself was somewhat interesting, although I have to admit to feeling a certain weariness in reading yet ANOTHER story about a woman whose husband just doesn't understand her. Does anyone write stories about women whose husbands are decent guys? Just wondering.

Mercedes' story, however, was fascinating. I did find myself skimming a bit through some of the descriptions of battles, but I generally don't enjoy those types of scenes, so that wasn't terribly surprising to me. I was unfamiliar with the history of the Spanish civil war, and think the author did an excellent job of portraying the terror the average Spaniard must have felt at seeing their world literally disintigrating around them.

And the dancing - I'm recently acquiring a love for dance, so the sections describing Mercedes' flamenco dancing were beautiful. I felt like I could SEE her, and her passion and fire. These were definitely my favorite parts of the novel.

So it was a bit of a mixed read for me, but in general I enjoyed it. I feel like I learned about a bit of history I'd not known about before, and I always like that. I suspect this novel will do well, and I will look for more by this author.

Finished: 10/04/9
Source: TLC Book Tours
Rating: 7/10

Don't just take my word for it! Here's the rest of the stops on this tour:

Monday, October 5th – Life and Times of a “New” New Yorker

Tuesday, October 6th – Starting Fresh

Thursday, October 8th – As Usual, I Need More Bookshelves

Tuesday, October 13th – Bending Bookshelf

Wednesday, October 14th – All About {n}

Thursday, October 15th – The Tome Traveller

Monday, October 19th – The Scholastic Scribe

Tuesday, October 20th – Dreadlock Girl Reads

Wednesday, October 21st – Write Meg

Thursday, October 22nd – Literate Housewife

Monday, October 26th – Diary of an Eccentric

Tuesday, October 27th – Drey’s Library

Wednesday, October 28th – Book Chatter and Other Stuff


Kailana said...

I really like the cover! Too bad you didn't love it, but I still think I will have to check it out one of these days. :)

trish said...

Thanks for being on this tour! I know what you mean about the stereotypical husband in books -- very annoying to me too! I love books where the history really comes alive, though!

Nikola said...

Any book that mentions flamenco (and if it describes it, even better!) is something i have to read. Excellent review, thank you!

Anna said...

I'm glad you liked it overall. I'll be starting it really soon, and I can't wait.

Diary of an Eccentric

Stephanie said...

I am very interested in Spain now, because I'm planning a trip there. :-) Adding this to my TBR list as we speak.

Kristen M. said...

This one is on my TBR but I'm not really in a rush to read it. I will keep it there for when I can't find anything else to read about Spain. :)

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

I read Hilsop's THE ISLAND, and found the historic parts about the island leper colony to be fascinating. I think it's not unusual for a reader to be captured by a fictional view of history, and find the contemporary story lacking.

I might pick this up to learn more about the Spanish Civil War (having been warned about the contemporary storyline!)

Carrie K said...

It does sound like an intriguing premise if I do share your weariness of husbands who don't understand their wives. You've got to wonder just why these women married them in the first place.

Zibilee said...

Though it does sound a bit uneven, overall the book sounds intrguing and like something that would be interesting to me. I think I would also prefer the historical sections in this story.