At age twelve, Sira Quiroga sweeps the atelier floors where her single mother works as a seamstress. By her early twenties she has learned the ropes of the business and is engaged to a modest government clerk. But everything changes when two charismatic men burst unexpectedly into her neatly mapped-out life: an attractive salesman and the father she never knew.

With the Spanish Civil War brewing in Madrid, Sira leaves her mother and her fiancé, impetuously following her handsome lover to Morocco. However, she soon finds herself abandoned, penniless, and heartbroken in an exotic land. Sira reinvents herself by turning to the one skill that can save her: her gift for creating beautiful clothes.

As England, Germany, and the other great powers launch into the dire conflict of World War II, Sira is persuaded to return to Madrid, where she takes on a new identity to embark upon the most dangerous undertaking of her career. As the preeminent couturier for an eager clientele of Nazi officers’ wives, Sira becomes embroiled in the half-lit world of espionage and political conspiracy rife with love, intrigue, and betrayal.

Knowing absolutely nothing about Spain’s history and its role in World War II, I received quite an education while enjoying a great read. The Time In Between was long (600 pages!) but well worth it. There were times in the beginning that the story moved more slowly than I would have liked, but the pace quickened soon enough to keep it interesting. In some places I found there were too many little details that could have been trimmed to make the book shorter. However, the story had me fully engrossed early on and I finished the book in less than two days. It is what I would call a ‘smart’ book; the language is full with a wide use of rich vocabulary and the writing is much more sophisticated than the usual historical fiction on the market (which may be a result of the author having a PhD in English Philology!)

There were many times that I found my pulse racing and adrenalin pumping as the main character walked the fine line between discovery and being discovered. The designs, fabrics and fashions that were such a large part of the story were fascinating and I often wished for a real glimpse into the main character’s studios. Poverty and riches, love and loss, family and loyalty – themes that are threaded into each page – are in constant upheaval during the uncertainty of war and will keep you constantly guessing and forever hoping that peace will finally return.

I loved The Time In Between and look forward to reading it again at a more leisurely pace.

I give this book 5 stars out of 5.

I received this book free from Atria Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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